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The benefits of a positive attitude

Depression, General | February 11, 2021 | Author: Naturopath

general, depression

The benefits of a positive attitude

For some people life situations can mean desolation but what research has found is that a positive outlook improves your capacity to deal with stressful situations, increases longevity, immunity, cardiovascular health and general well-being.

Being able to think positively or having a positive attitude is an effective way to manage stress and offers many health benefits. Even if you are more inclined to be pessimistic, you can still alter your way of thinking towards a more positive view and reap the benefits.

Health advantages

Having a positive attitude has its health benefits, many of which have been validated by research.

  • Increased life expectancy
  • Improved immunity
  • Better cardiovascular health and improved mortality from cardiovascular disease
  • Otimistic attitudes are associated with decreased depression and increased happiness
  • Healthy response to stress and stressors. “Man is not worried by real problems so much as by his imagined anxieties about real problems” ― Epictetus
  • Improved general well-being (physical and physiological)

A positive attitude helps you cope better in stressful situations

Longevity

Resilience contributes to longevity at all ages and especially as you become older. Resilience is the capacity to quickly recover from adversity. It is what enables you to face stressfull situations in life whist maintaining a healthy mind. 

Immunity

Research, published in Psychology and Aging has found that older people who focused on positive information were more likely to have stronger immune systems and healthier aging.

Health

Positive psychological functioning such as optimism and hope influences health. In fact, it has been found there is a close relationship between the concepts of ‘optimism and hope’ resulted in a reduction in the effects of chronic disease.

Cardiovascular 

People with a family history of heart disease who also had a positive outlook were one-third less likely to have a heart attack or other cardiovascular event within five to 25 years than those with a more negative outlook” according to Johns Hopkins expert Lisa R. Yanek, M.P.H., and her colleagues.

Depression

Depressed individuals, when shown positive prospective imagery, were able to envision a brighter future and were more optimistic in the long term. In other words, being able to imagine a desired “rosy” outcome can increase optimism.

But how can you improve your outlook?

Improving your out​look

Positive thinking is about looking at a problem and seeing, or finding the best possible outcome, instead of dwelling on the negatives. It is not about ignoring a problem, but more about finding a workable solution. “Men are disturbed not by things, but by the view which they take of them”. Epictetus

Improving your out​lookA positive chat to yourself.
The conversation which goes on in your head when you are faced with a dilemma, a stress, a health or family crisis, for example, should be the most positive conversation you have. This conversation looks at the best possible outcome and allows you to formulate a plan.

“Nurture your mind with great thoughts, for you will never go any higher than you think”. Benjamin Disraeli.

Don’t let negative thoughts sabotage positive action.

Surround yourself with people who have a positive outlook. “The key is to keep company only with people who uplift you, whose presence calls forth your best.” ― Epictetus. Maintain healthy relationships with friends and family.

Accept situations you can’t change and move forward. “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude”. Maya Angelou (American poet and civil rights activist). Instead of focussing on the negative of a situation, look towards the positives.

Focus on what you can control

Be resilient. Don’t let negativity and stressful situations be the only focus. “If you are positive, you’ll see opportunities instead of obstacles”. Widad Akrawi (health expert and human rights activist). Build resillience by eating well, sleeping well and exercising. These help reduce stress, which inturn can increase resilience. 

Nurture close relationships with family and friends who can offer support and guidance when needed.

Maintain your moral compass. Your moral compass is your identity, it allows you to care for others, it builds self-confidence, it allows you to foster healthy relationships and to be a good role model. 

But how can you improve your outlook?Smile. Smiling, even fake smiling, was found to lower blood pressure and heart rate during stressful events.

Deal with problems. Ignoring an issue wont make it disappear, often the sooner a problem is dealt with offers a solution and resolution, with less time spent on unnecessary stress and worry.

“It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters”. Epictetus (Greek philosopher).

Change the subject. Rather than over-thinking/worrying and becoming overly anxious about a situation, change the subject. Study has shown any form of positive ideation can be used to effectively counter worry. Practice changing the subject of stress to something entirely different. This can be especially helpful when having trouble sleeping due to stress.

Imagine your positive outcome/future to increase your optimism.

“Keep looking up… that’s the secret of life”. Charlie Brown (a cartoon character representing the average person).

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References

https://ourworldindata.org/life-expectancy

Positive Attitude Towards Life, Emotional Expression, self-rated health, and depressive symptoms among centenarians and near-centenarians https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5048681/

https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/resilience

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/resilience

Centenarian Studies: Important Contributors to our Understanding of the Aging Process and Longevity https://www.hindawi.com/journals/cggr/2010/525693/

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/positive-thinking/art-20043950

https://www.uq.edu.au/news/article/2014/09/positive-boost-immune-system

https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/the-power-of-positive-thinking

The power of positive thinking: Pathological worry is reduced by thought replacement in Generalized Anxiety Disorder https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4760272/

Do Quarantine Experiences and Attitudes Towards COVID-19 Affect the Distribution of Mental Health in China? A Quantile Regression Analysis https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7321773/

Seeing light at the end of the tunnel: Positive prospective mental imagery and optimism in depression https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5241224/

The Psychology of Morality: A Review and Analysis of Empirical Studies Published From 1940 Through 2017 https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1088868318811759

Moral Emotions and Moral Behavior https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3083636/

Optimism and Hope in Chronic Disease: A Systematic Review https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5209342/

https://wisdomquotes.com/attitude-quotes/

https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/epictetus/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/13852.Epictetus

https://www.peanuts.com/about/charlie-brown

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