Some people are naturally optimistic, others are the opposite and the rest of us fall somewhere in between. Wherever we land on the optimism scale, most of us have days where we need cheering up. That’s when positive thinking comes into its own.
When it comes to health and well-being, the general consensus of medical opinion is clear- thinking positively can make all the difference. The NHS suggests that “good mental well-being is important for our physical health.”
Equally, leading as active a life as possible contributes to mental well-being. According to the Mayo Clinic in America, positive thinking may increase life span and even give greater resistance to the common cold – so it’s got to be worth a try!
We live mostly in our heads, and thoughts constantly flit through our minds unbidden. The first step in cultivating positive thinking is consciously to challenge any automatic negativity. That means not always imagining the worst is going to happen and trying not to be too self-critical. Positive thinking does not mean ignoring problems; rather it can help you deal with them more effectively and with minimal stress.
Time spent with positive friends and family encourages us to have a better outlook, and performing acts of kindness for others, no matter how small, can do the same.
Another step towards positive thinking is to take the time to appreciate life in general, and your own life in particular.
Remember to stop and smell the roses – this pretty much sums up what is usually meant by mindfulness.
Some people call it living in the moment, becoming aware of everything around you – sights, smells, sounds, tastes, feelings, yourself. Focus on things that are in the moment, accept them without judgement and you will start to see things you have taken for granted in a new light.
This is of course easier said than done but here are a couple of techniques you can try :
Concentrate on your breathing for a few minutes, using the nose only. Breathe in slowly, hold for a count of six, breathe out slowly. Feel the sensation of breathing. Notice any thoughts that come into your mind and let them wander out again, returning your attention to your breath. This is very calming and a step towards meditation, which is often advocated for helping to relieve stress and as an aid to positive thinking.
Study something that is truly beautiful to you, a flower, or a photograph, or a view. Listen to music, birdong or the sea and allow yourself to become fully absorbed so that you lose track of time.
If you can make positive thinking a habit then you will soon begin to notice the multitude of health benefits that come with it :)
Lots of love, Kirst xxx