Scientists are learning that positive thinking may be good for your health. Benefits may include:
- Living longer
- Lower rates of depression
- Lower risk of death from heart disease
- Lower risk of stroke
- Lower levels of distress
- More resistance to the common cold
- Feeling better mentally and physically
- Better coping during times of stress
HOW DOES OPTIMISM WORK?
Science does not yet know for sure why people with positive attitudes have these health benefits. One theory is that optimistic people tend to live healthier lifestyles.
Another theory has to do with stress. We know that stress produces harmful effects on your body. So, it may be that positive thinking helps reduce stress, and so reduces the damage it can do.
REDUCING STRESS WITH A GOOD ATTITUDE
You can help control stress by following these common-sense rules:
- Eat and drink sensibly
- Exercise regularly
- Sleep soundly for as long as you need to feel rested
- Keep in touch—people who socialize tend to manage stress well
- Go ahead and smile—laughter really is great medicine
- Allow yourself to be less than perfect
PRACTICE POSITIVE THINKING
If you’re feeling depressed, you should see your doctor. But when you find yourself thinking negatively, there are some exercises you can do that really help:
- Focus on what’s going well. Write down three events—even small things like calling an old friend on the phone—and give yourself credit for the role you played.
- Practice gratitude. Write down three things that enrich your life and you’re thankful for.
- Look on the bright side. Write down a negative event from your past, then think of something positive that came out of it—or might.
- Expect good things. Imagine yourself doing something that feels good.