How Positivity Can Improve Our Physical Health
by Patrick Bailey
The connection between mental health and physical health isn’t something we hear a lot about in today’s fast-paced world but the proof is there. How we think affects how we feel. Even the random thoughts that float around in our heads have an impact. When these thoughts are positive we stand to benefit in more ways than one. Positive thinking and health are closely linked and it doesn’t take make to incorporate positivity into your daily life.
Can Thoughts and Emotions Affect Your Physical Health?
Most everyone knows what it feels like to be angry or even furious. While anger is an emotion, it also comes out in the body. Your heart rate increases, your muscles tighten, and your breathing changes. These physical expressions can take a toll on your health if they happen often.
Negativity develops out of patterns of thinking and feeling that work against your well-being. When left unchecked, chronic stress is the result. Chronic stress has damaging effects on the body’s systems, disrupting your hormone balance, weakening your immune system, and depleting the “feel-good” chemicals your brain uses to promote happiness. While negative attitudes and feelings can tear down the body’s health, the flip-side is also true. The relationship between positive thinking and health is just as strong.
The Many Layers of Positivity
A happy, worry-free state of mind about sums up positivity but there are some underlying layers that make this mindset possible. In a nutshell, positivity is a belief system that determines how you see yourself and the world around you. While this may sound like a “head-in-the-clouds” perspective, it has more to do with how you perceive life’s situations (both good and bad) and you react to them.
Another layer of positivity to consider has to do with self-talk or that seemingly random stream of thoughts that runs through your head throughout the day. If negative thoughts populate most of your inner chatter, it can be really hard to choose, let alone maintain, a positive outlook. Much like the effects of negativity on your health, the power of positive thinking is real.
Ways Positivity Can Improve Your Physical Health
Positivity Effects on Emotional Well-Being
Numerous studies have examined the link between a positive attitude and health. One particular study conducted by the University of San Francisco worked with people living with H.I.V. infection. Study participants were instructed to incorporate daily practices that were specifically designed to promote positive emotions. Daily practices included things like building a healthy social support network, paying more attention to the good things in their lives, and fostering behaviors that promote good health, such as eating right and getting proper rest. Results from the study showed the participants were less likely to need antidepressants to cope with their illness.
Positivity Effects on Aging
The effects of chronic stress reach all the down into our DNA, shortening DNA telomeres. Telomeres are the “end caps” on DNA molecules and they gradually shorten with age. With shorter telomeres, the body’s cells deteriorate and die off, which is what happens as the body ages. These cells are also more prone to becoming cancerous. The link between positive thinking and health can have a significant impact on telomere health along with other lifestyle improvements, such as regular exercise and healthy eating.
Positivity Effects in Addiction Recovery
Traditional approaches in addiction recovery place a heavy emphasis on positive attitude and health as can be seen in the central role support therapies play in helping individuals build drug-free lifestyles. Drug and alcohol rehab programs, across the board, understand the crucial role destructive thinking patterns play in driving substance abuse. Replacing this mindset with one that views and approaches self and daily life circumstances from a productive standpoint is an ongoing theme in the addiction recovery process.
Tips on How to Stay Positive
You can see the power of positive thinking at work in your life by making a few tweaks in your thinking and overall approach to daily life. Here are a few tips to consider:
- Replace negative self-talk with positive self-talk
- Look for the humor in daily life events and laugh as often as possible
- Identify the “negative” areas of your life and focus on seeing the positive in each area
- Spend time with positive people
While developing positivity doesn’t typically happen overnight, it can be done when you’re intentional about it. Making positivity and health work to your advantage can go a long way towards enhancing your quality of life.
Author Bio: Patrick Bailey is a professional writer mainly in the fields of mental health, addiction, and living in recovery. He attempts to stay on top of the latest news in the addiction and the mental health world and enjoy writing about these topics to break the stigma associated with them.
Website / Blog URL: http://patrickbaileys.com
1 – University of Minnesota, “How Do Thoughts and Emotions Affect Health?”
2 – The University of San Francisco, “Randomized Controlled Trial of a Positive Affect Intervention to Reduce Stress in People Newly Diagnosed with HIV; Protocol and Design for theIRISS Study”
3 – Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care, “Telomeres, Lifestyle, Cancer, and Aging”
4 – National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (Alcohol, Marijuana, Cocaine, Methamphetamine, Nicotine)”
5 – Sunshine Behavioral Health, Inpatient Alcohol Rehab Options”