How A Positive Attitude Can Keep Us Healthier


By Susan Rappaport

There is ongoing exploration on the effects of positive thinking and optimism on our health. The health benefits that positive thinking can provide include: an increased life span, immune boosting potential, disease fighting benefits and an all around better, happier life. If we are able to maintain a general optimistic view of life, our overall health and well-being will benefit in various ways.

The same message goes for the opposite. Thinking negatively can actually have a contradictory effect on our health by making us feel anxious, angry and depressed. This frame of thinking creates a displeased existence, which is so consuming it’s difficult to see the beauty in life. Negative emotions can activate a brain region that plays a role in fear and anxiety. People who focus on the glass half empty heal more slowly and may be more at risk for a variety of health conditions compared to those who recuperate more quickly and see the glass half full… the more resilient people.

Having a positive outlook doesn’t mean we can never feel down, sad or angry, but if we focus on unfavorable thoughts again and again, those negative emotions can consume us. Too much focus on the past or a fixation about the future, removes us from the present moment, which is where life happens.

Optimistic feelings broaden our perspective and open us up to new and different ways of thinking so we can grow. Positive emotions are said to trigger a chemical reaction in the brain called the reward system. People who are able to savor positive emotions have lasting stimulation in this area of the brain. Continued activation of this part of the brain has been linked to healthful changes in the body, including lower levels of stress hormones.

Among those who are more spirited and better able to hold on to positive emotions are people who’ve practiced various forms of meditation, yoga, tai chi, hiking in nature, and mindfulness work including psychotherapy and religion. In fact, growing evidence suggests that numerous modalities can help people develop the skills needed to make positive, healthful changes.

The significance of certain kinds of training has been said to alter brain circuits in a way that promotes positive responses. Striving for mental wellbeing is a life skill that takes work and awareness to achieve. Choosing to see the positive is a key to emotional wellness. Most of us think that emotions just happen, like weather, but like a muscle, if it’s worked on you can develop a more positive mindset…

The Following are the Potential Benefits from Positivity

Better Handling Stress & Anxiety

We can improve the way we think by changing our thought patterns. This goes for people of all ages, though the younger we are when we discover this, the better. Remaining optimistic during stressful times is easier on our bodies and our minds. Life without challenges is not possible. Positive thinking helps us cope better during hardships, which reduces stress in our lives.

Strengthens Immune Response

It is widely believed that positive thinking can help us fight off many illnesses including things like the common cold. Medical research has shown that negative emotions cause greater electrical activity in part of the brain that weakens the immune system. With enough work at changing our hard-wired programming and patterns, we can change our responses, reactions and all around outlook… which, will inevitably keep us healthier.

Prolongs Longevity

It has been proven that if we are more cognizant of our complaining minds and strive to maintain a positive mental mood, we are less likely to die from serious illness. Diseases that have been linked to stress are diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer and so on. Stress can make us sick, and very often does.

Slower aging

Since we know stress escalates the aging process, there’s no reason to delay being proactive in battling the onset of aging. It seems that optimism is part of the trick. By maintaining an optimistic outlook, not only can we live longer, but we’ll also slow signs of aging.

Here are 12 practices that can foster a more positive outlook:

1) Practice yoga, tai chi, etc.

2) Meditate Daily – 5 minutes is great

3) Say something nice about people you walk by (but keep it to yourself).

4) Make an effort not to criticize but rather, be compassionate.

5) Love your job.

6) Love yourself.

7) Say 5 things out loud daily that you are grateful for.

8) Forgive yourself.

9) Take good care of you.

10) Fake it till you make it.

11) Trust the journey.

12) Laugh more.

13) Get out of your head.

14) Enjoy the ride.

15) Live in the moment!!!

Susan Rappaport is the founder of NuYu Revolution. NuYu is a thoughtful and compassionate exercise studio designed to build solid foundations for a healthy, ongoing relationship with fitness. Organic growth, realistic goals and easefulness keep members committed. The class-only experiences educate students in correct posture, alignment and breathing above intensity, preserving the musculoskeletal system. Offerings include Yoga, Mat Pilates, Posture Cycle®, Spine Align, and Mindful Strengthening, at beginner, intermediate and advanced levels.

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