How Positive Thinking Affects Your Health

In the 1600s, René Descartes wanted to dissect cadavers for his scientific studies. At the time, human dissection was not allowed because the prevailing religion of the time believed that damaging the body would also damage the soul. Descartes used science, philosophy, and religion to change this belief and gained access to cadavers. His ideas eventually led people to the philosophy of Mind-Body Dualism, which says that emotional, mental, and physical health (mind-body) are completely separate (dualism). 

Today, we know that our emotional, mental, and physical health are inseparable. This blog series will explore the ways our emotional, mental, and physical health are connected, and how we can use this to our advantage as we strive for better health.

Are you a “glass half full” or a “glass half empty” kind of person? We’ve all heard this question (probably too many times!) and given our respective answers. We all think we know that positive thinking has a big impact on our lives, but do we really know?

First, let’s be clear. Your positive thinking won’t change difficult circumstances. Your positive thinking won’t change your difficult boss or your moody teenager. But positive thinking may change how you see yourself, how you see the world, and how you respond to it. Because positive thinking can change these fundamentals about us, positive thinking may also affect our health.

Positive thinking is proven to be an effective way to manage stress. This is where the health benefits begin — stress is bad for our health, and while we may not be able to reduce stress because of circumstances outside of our control, we can change our response to it. And that’s what positive thinking is all about.

Scientists theorize that because positive thinking manages stress, it also holds other benefits:

  • Longer life span
  • Less depression
  • Less distress
  • Better immunity against the common cold
  • Improved psychological and physical wellness
  • Improved cardiovascular health
  • Improved coping skills

Unfortunately, negativity works like an addiction; it’s difficult to stop negative thoughts and start positive thoughts. This is one of the reasons that depression can be so difficult to overcome — negative thoughts make depression worse, and once the cycle begins, it’s tough to break. Negative thinking could worsen depression, reduce cognitive function, make physical pain feel more painful, and more.

Overcome negative with these tips:

  • Smile, which improves your mood
  • Meditate or practice yoga, which helps you become more aware of your thoughts
  • Stop complaining and start complimenting
  • Become friends with positive people
  • Help someone with a problem they’re facing — volunteer
  • Sing, which improves mood and fights depression
  • Read or listen to music or podcasts to help you escape
  • Make a list of what you’re thinking negatively about

Sources: www.healthambition.com, www.mayoclinic.com 

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