Why A Positive Outlook Is Vital At This Time
The Health Benefits Of Positive Thinking
We’ve gotten pretty used to hearing that we should stay positive.
Sometimes that can seem naive or irresponsible, especially when we really feel like things aren’t going well.
You should only use positive thinking to avoid stress from things that aren’t important or that we can’t change.
Some stress is normal and healthy, but sometimes unhealthy stress comes from sweating the little things or worrying about things that we have no power over.
Stress from these sources is unproductive, and that’s the kind of stress that you should try to do away with through positive thinking.
Control Weight and Blood Pressure
The famous Whitehall Studies found that chronic low-level stress correlates with physical issues including unhealthy blood-pressure levels and excessive weight.
In the case of the Whitehall studies, this stress was largely caused by dissatisfaction with one’s job. This is exactly the kind of stress that positive thinking can help to do away with.
Since the Whitehall Studies, there have been several smaller and less publicized studies that have found that positive thinking, including positive reflection on performance or events, can reduce workplace stress.
If stress causes problems with your physical health and positive thinking reduces stress, it makes sense to draw the conclusion that positive thinking can have positive impacts on your physical wellbeing.
One of the proposed reasons that positive thinking and stress reduction are linked to lower weight is that the body produces hormones during times of stress that may lead to adverse health effects at high levels of long periods of time.
Boost Immune Health
A 2008 study published by the National Institute of Health similarly stated that stress hormones can negatively impact the immune system.
The study further suggested that by limiting stress we can bolster the immune system in order to combat illnesses. The article specifically discussed the role of stress reduction in combatting breast cancer in women.
A 2010 article published in the annals of Behavioral Medicine says that this “tyranny of positive thinking” can be misleading and irresponsible.
According to the article there just isn’t enough research out there to say that staying optimistic can cure cancer or bolster the immune system like some have suggested.
Learn Healthier Behaviors
The article, however, also pointed out that many of these perceived benefits of positive thinking can come from the ways in which people try to think positively or from some result of thinking positively.
Perhaps limiting stress doesn’t directly lead to healthier weights, perhaps we make smarter dietary choices when we are in a good mood.
Perhaps positive thinking doesn’t directly improve our immune system, perhaps when we try are in a good mood, we spend more time with friends – which has been found to help the immune system.
Whether health benefits really just come from positive thinking or whether they are part of a more complicated cascade, they are certainly linked somehow.
Manage Depression (with professional help)
There is also much debate regarding to what extent positive thinking can be used to treat disorders like depression.
One take is that actively engaging in positive thinking could be used to combat depression, while the opposing line of thinking is that people who are depressed are necessarily outside of the influence of positive thinking.
One 2010 study published in Perspectives in Psychiatric Care found that cognitive behavioral therapy can increase positive thinking and decrease negative thinking in patients with depression.
While positive thinking is likely not enough to combat depression on its own, this article suggests that positive thinking can be learned by people with emotional disorders and so may be one additional tool that can be used in the treatment of these disorders.
While there are resources online for learning to think positively, this study discussed patients who were seen by a licensed therapy professional.
If you have or think you might have depression, talk to your doctor about what resources may be available to you.