Have you ever physically felt an emotion? When you’re nervous, have you noticed that your stomach feels funny? When you’re excited you may feel your nerves tingling and your heart beating faster. When you’re sad, you feel sore and fatigued.
The reason for this is that there is an inseparable connection between the mind and the body. There are complicated interactions that take place between your mind, body, and the outside world. Feelings of joy, sadness, anger, hope, and apathy directly affect your body. You feel emotions in a physical way.
So if you suffer from depression you aren’t just affected emotionally. Many physical ailments can be linked to depression. The physical symptoms include digestive problems, pain, trouble sleeping, and dizziness. If you’re dealing with anger you can experience high blood pressure and headaches. Negative thoughts put stress on the mind and body, and science has extensively documented the physical risks of high stress levels.
On the flip side, dwelling on positive thoughts can improve your health from the inside out! Actively employing positive thinking can boost your immune system. Think about that. You may already eat right, exercise, get enough sleep and take supplements, but positive thinking can fill in the gaps and strengthen your immune system too!
Studies have shown a link between a positive outlook and a variety of health benefits. Lower blood pressure, less heart disease, maintaining a healthy weight, and lower blood sugar levels are all attributed to optimistic thinking. An optimistic attitude can also help you recover and heal faster after injury or surgery.
But what if you aren’t a naturally optimistic person? Don’t despair! Here are four small things you can do every day to see the world in a better light and improve your health:
- Start off each day with a positive thought. It will help you set the tone for how you will choose to think for the day.
- Smile, smile, smile. There is something to the adage, “Fake it ‘til you make it.” When you make the effort to smile, your emotions will follow. Smiling will also draw others toward you creating a positive exchange that can lift your mood.
- Live one moment at a time. Stop worrying about the past and the future. Focus on the present and making that day the best it can be. Repeated brief moments of positive thinking can foster mental and physical health. Some of my clients find it helpful to practice mindfulness to help them focus and see the good in their day.
- Practice gratitude. Having a grateful attitude is linked to less stress and anxiety, sleeping more soundly, better physical health, greater satisfaction in life and relationships. Look for the moments, big and small, that you are thankful for. Some people keep a gratitude journal.
Positive thinking takes practice, but you can remake yourself into a positive person by re-training your brain to think positively! If you’re looking for the negative, the neural pathways for negative thinking become stronger. Your brain will lean toward the negative automatically. When you practice gratitude, and look for the good, you are activating different neural circuits in your brain. Dopamine and serotonin production is increased, producing calming results. The more you stimulate these circuits in your brain, the stronger and more automatic they become.If you find yourself still overwhelmed by negative thoughts, and you live in the Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA area, please contact my office to set up an appointment. I also offer online therapy to those residing in Oregon or Washington states so you can get the help you need from the comfort of your own home. We’ll work to put your negative thoughts into perspective and cultivate the positive attitude that will improve your health and well-being.