Does this sound like you? You probably have heard that positive thinking can have such an amazingly powerful effect on your life. But maybe you are not buying into all that “positive thoughts” power. You need proof. So, exactly how does positive thinking reduce stress? What really happens inside your body when you adopt a positive as opposed to negative way of thinking? Let’s take a look.
The Mayo Clinic reports that using positive thinking as a stress management tool can lead to the following benefits:
You live longer
Instances of depression and anxiety are reduced
Your natural defense system is boosted
You do not catch as many colds (seriously)
You develop excellent coping skills
A lower risk of heart disease and heart related death
For some it is difficult to believe those benefits can come about simply by changing the way we think and having a positive attitude. However, by just simply changing your posture, pulling back your shoulders, standing straight and strong, holding a positive thought and a nice smile on your face, you will already feel the immediate physical en emotional effect this simple exercise has on your body and your mind.
But obviously, it is not really the positive attitude in and of itself which delivers those “long term” benefits. It’s the true and honest perception of reality that positive thinkers enjoy without letting negativity interfere with their perceptions which reduces stress and then leads to those many benefits.
For instance, people with a positive mindset tend to see the world as it is. They apply much less negative filters or preconceived beliefs about existence than those with a negative mindset. They understand the mantra of mindfulness meditation – to live in the moment and focus on the “now.”
Focus on Possible Solutions and Positive Outcomes
When you look at the “now” you look less at the “world” and everything that is happening out of your control, or “influence zone.” Rather you focus on what is “real now” as a “now” experience, without pointless future-guessing or inviting disruptive thoughts of past negative experiences that can influence your mindset and actions. Therefore, it should not come as a surprise that science has shown that positive thinkers see more possibilities in their lives and in the future.
When you believe there are limitless options and possibilities and you look at “your life” and “your world” — meaning the world you can have an influence on, rather than “the world” generally perceived by most people as a hard place to live thanks to an abundance of “negative press” — you are more in control. Because you don not allow so much negative information to come through the filters of perception of your mind, you are more calm and peaceful.
Even in the face of difficult situations, you’ll take that with more ease, calmness, grace, and courage, as you have a strong inner knowing that this is only a temporary setback or challenge to face. Stressing over what may happen is one of the biggest worries of the negative thinker. It doesn’t mean it never happens with someone who fosters positive beliefs, however, they tend to leave the negative thoughts that slipped through their filters of the mind quickly behind and tend to re-focus on possible solutions or positive outcomes.
They do not waste time creating possible “what if” scenarios if everything would turn negative, or against them. Instead, they keep their focus on the present moment and rather engage in a kind of a SWOT analyses where they look at the challenge from different perspectives so they create a very clear vision which prepares them for the worst as well as the best possible outcomes, and then they choose a course of action which they belief will deliver the most possible positive outcome.
Physiologically, the process of stress is very simple
If most people struggle so much with stress — which is a kind of an emotional vibration mainly caused by worry and fear — this is because when our ancient ancestors encountered stress, it was often a life or death situation. What we call today the “fight or flight reflex” that tells our brain that we are in danger and therefore creates a stressful vibration. Unfortunately this still happens today, even when what you perceive as stress has a limited or nonexistent impact of threatening your life.
However, your body still releases hormones and chemicals that quicken your pulse, speed up your heart rate and make you see just about everything as a possible threat. When you view the world as it is, you see that most things today are nonthreatening. Positive thinkers view the world with a very clear focus, so their bodies naturally create less stressful vibrations. This leads to fewer heart problems, less anxiety and nervous problems, and a healthier, longer life.
But how do you use positive thinking to reduce stress?
If you learn to “catch” your negative thoughts, and learn to delete, transform and replace them with new more positive thoughts, you are starting the process of nourishing yourself and your brain in a way that helps you blossom in the direction of what you really want, or at least more positive experiences and outcomes.
Life often offers stress in “pre-packaged” formats. Some might be recurring, like having to face a superior at work that makes your life miserable five days a week… And some might be perceived as “positive” like buying a new car or house. But don’t be fooled by the “positive vibes” you feel when you finally get in that new car, or house, as the whole pre-sales process can be more stressful than one would think.
However, what makes the difference is how you deal with stressful situations. Stress either eats away at you, or empowers you. Being in one or the other category depends on a few factors, like mindset, courage, self-confidence, and on the self care strategies you employ to deal with the stress that comes your way.
Here is an interesting post published on the Power Of Positivity website about 11 Simple Ways to Practice Self Care and Release Stress.