Don’t you find you are naturally drawn to optimistic, upbeat people? I do. Well, some of the time at least. I know, though, that maintaining a “glass half full” outlook is probably better for me than being someone who always worries about letting other people down due to my various chronic illnesses. And, the benefits of positive thinking on health are worth considering if you want a longer, happier life.
Founder of Vavistalife.com, Health Expert and NHS weight-loss consultant surgeon Dr Sally Norton spells out the benefits of positive thinking on health below.
Many people see positivity as a genetic trait – something they are either born with or not. In the same way that we might talk about our eye colour or height, many of us will describe ourselves as naturally optimistic or pessimistic.
However, your brain can change!
In the same way that we can train our brains to appreciate healthy food, we can teach ourselves to have a more positive outlook on life.
When you find yourself thinking those negative thoughts about yourself, your circumstances, or even about others, STOP!
Instead, force yourself to think of three positive things instead – there will always be something. If you persevere with looking for the good, instead of the bad, it will become a habit.
It’s well worth the effort – numerous studies now recognise the benefits of positive thinking on health.
The benefits of positive thinking on health
Improved heart health
According to a new study from the University of Illinois, having a positive outlook on life could provide you with better heart health.
The study of more than 5,100 adults, found that the most optimistic people were twice as likely to be in ideal cardiovascular health, compared with their pessimistic counterparts, with significantly better blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
Not only this, but the optimists were also more likely to be physically active and have healthier BMIs.
More likely to succeed
You might think that succeeding would lead you to feel happier, but in fact, it works the other way round.
Studies show that positivity and a happier outlook will increase your chances of success.
For example, did you know that ¾ of our success at work is linked to our optimism and how well we manage and deal with stress, rather than our IQ?
And being positive could help you to achieve better results in smaller tasks – in fact, studies show that people who are encouraged to think positively before a maths test do better than others!
Better chances of ditching junk food
Struggling to lose that last half a stone? We all know that when we’re feeling negative, we instinctively turn to sugary and fatty foods that will give our bodies a quick burst of energy and feel-good hormones.
However, this is swiftly followed by a crash in our blood sugar levels – leaving us feeling even worse than before.
These junk foods also do little to help us lose any weight, adding to those negative feelings that left us reaching for the junk food in the first place!
So instead, instead of indulging in negative self-talk, try focusing on the positives – think about how hard you’ve worked so far, and how good you’ll feel when you finally reach your goal weight, and you’ll find those negative yearnings for junk food soon dissipate!
More likely to stick with your fitness goals
Negative thinking about fitness will make you more likely to bail at the first opportunity.
Studies show that a positive frame of mind helps people to stick with their fitness regimes as well as their healthy eating goals.
Once you get exercising, that positivity is helped even more by the endorphins or feel-good hormones that moving your body releases.
If you find that the thought of heading to the gym leaves you feeling miserable, then ditch the gym!
Try finding different ways you could keep fit – fitness classes, swimming, or brisk walks in the fresh air.
There’s something out there for everyone, and when you’ve found an activity that you enjoy, those positive feelings will make you more likely to stick with it for the long-haul.
Some pretty good reasons to try to be less Eyore and more Tigger, I’m sure you’ll agree!