Our minds are powerful tools for creating health and wellness. While studies haven’t identified exactly why a positive outlook makes people healthier, researchers suspect that it’s because people who are positive process stress better and move through challenging situations more easily.
Negative attitudes and feelings of helplessness can create chronic stress, which can, in turn, damage the immune system. In addition, anger and hostility are related to health conditions such as high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, digestive disorders, and increased instances of infection.
Surprisingly, the tendency toward a positive or negative outlook does have a genetic component. However, this doesn’t mean that people can’t work to improve their perspectives.
Smile more: Even fake smiling can reduce heart rate and blood pressure during stressful situations.
Practice reframing: Instead of stressing about a current situation, try to find a positive aspect to it.
Share your feelings: Often, we spend too much time in our heads. Sharing our feelings with a trusted other can help us find a different way to look at a situation. If others are mired in their current negative situations, encourage them to share their fears.
Create a More Positive Outlook By:
- Getting better sleep.
- Taking a walk outside.
- Following a healthy lifestyle.
- Practicing positive self-talk.
- Surrounding yourself with positive people.
- Being open to humor or create a place for smiling and laughing every day.
- Consciously working on experiencing three positive emotions for every negative one.
- Actively evaluating your self-talk at various points during the day to see how you’re doing.
While loved ones might resist the idea of optimistic thinking, there are health reasons to ask them to reconsider.
Positive thinking can lead to:
- Better sleep
- Increased life span
- Lower levels of distress
- Lower rates of depression
- Greater resistance to the common cold
- Better cardiovascular health
- Better coping skills during extreme hardship
Are you a negative or positive thinker?
Listen to your own self-talk – that endless stream of unspoken thoughts that goes through your head. Some forms of negative self-talk to watch out for include:
This means magnifying the negative aspects of a situation and not acknowledging the positive. For example, Your loved one had a good night’s sleep, a fun phone call with their grandchild, and took a walk on a beautifully sunny day outside. But then they tripped and fell with minor injuries. At the end of the day, did they say it was a “bad” day because of the fall or a “good” day because of the rest?
When something bad occurs, you or your loved one automatically takes the blame. Sometimes no one is to blame.
You or your loved one uses language that makes things out to be much worse than they are or assumes that because one bad thing happened, it’s all downhill from there. Single events in the day are rarely the “worst” or “most horrific.”
You or your loved one sees things as either good or bad, not the vast gray area in the middle. This leads to feeling like one is only perfect or a failure, healthy or dying tomorrow, capable, or completely incapacitated.
Source: Mayo Clinic
If you see these tendencies in your loved one, take care when you address the subject. They are more likely to see it as an attack and apply all the above thought processes to that interaction. If you are caregiving for a loved one and their outlook is starting to negatively affect your own, consider reaching out to Caregivers by WholeCare to discuss our respite care services. A well-deserved and regular break from providing care can change our outlook and help us to find new solutions. 615-422-7549