Positive Thinking = A Longer, Healthier Life
This “Living with Covid” era has us all running the gamut of emotions – there’s some fear and foreboding, annoyance, irritation, and short–temperedness involved. Now infection rates are going up and we are forced to face the reality that this virus is not a short-term thing. In my attempt to find a life- balance in the midst of the pandemic, I’ve been learning about positive thinking and its effect on health and happiness.
A 35 year study at a California retirement community discovered the risk of death was significantly higher among those with less than a positive outlook on life – while those who consistently felt positive had lower rates of inflammation, better sleep patterns, a better immune response – and a longer lifespan. Whew!
Reading a couple of those studies put developing a positive mental outlook at the top of my list! So how do you do it?
Advice from Mayo Clinic Experts on Developing Your Positivity
Mayo Clinic, one of the country’s leading health care institutions gives this advice –
First, identify and eliminate negative thinking – Is your self-talk negative? i.e. – do you filter out the positive aspects of a situation and magnify the negative? How about personalization – when something bad happens to you, do you automatically blame yourself? i.e. – if plans with friends get cancelled, do you assume it’s because they are trying to avoid you? Do you catastrophize, or anticipate the worst? For example, you are convinced the whole day will be bad because the drive through got your morning coffee order wrong? How about polarizing – seeing things as only good or bad – there’s no middle ground – if you are not perfect, you are a failure. I’m sure at least one of these scenarios sounds familiar to you. So how do we get rid of these negative things like filtering, personalizing, catastrophizing, and polarizing?
Mayo Clinic has these suggestions for ways to replace them in your life:
We can all teach ourselves to be more positive thinking – like any habit, it takes time, but the benefits for our mental and physical health, as well as the positive effect you can have on the rest of your family, is worth it!
Make a Positive Change in Your Thoughts and Actions
Identify areas to change – pick something you are usually negative about and focus on looking at just that area in a positive light. Maybe it’s a relationship with one of your children? A spouse? A co-worker? Try to look at what bothers you from a new angle.
Check up on yourself as you grow into a positive thinking mindset. Set a physical timer for 2 or 3 times a day. Use that time to ask yourself “ How am I doing? “ If you find you’ve been thinking negatively, find something positive about the situation to concentrate on.
Find something humorous in your life every day. When you can laugh at life you’ll be less stressed.
Try to find a healthy stress break you enjoy and do it consistently every day – a 30 minute walk outside alone – a video workout – yoga online – or break it up into 3- 10 minute sessions throughout the day. Exercise of any kind positively affects mood and reduces stress!
Make sure you have positive people in your life! This may be the most important of all – when you are working hard on being positive you don’t need those people in your life that come along and pop your balloon and let out all that positive energy with a sharply pointed comment. Phase out the ‘friends’ that insult or poke fun. That goes for social media too – if it’s negative stop scrolling – you have better things to do!
Lastly, practice positive self-talk. Here’s the rule – don’t say anything to yourself that you wouldn’t say to anyone else – be gentle and encouraging to yourself.
Positivity – You can Do it!
Give it a try –an attitude of positive thinking is so vital for our health, sanity, and for making it possible to roll with the punches and survive the pandemic we are all currently fighting our way through. Just as you’ve learned to shop online, homeschool your kids, and “zoom” to work, you can do this too! Positive thinking is healthy – it boosts our immune system – and who doesn’t need that right about now?