Everyone experiences challenges in life—learn how to use positivity for your overall wellbeing.

The power of positivity

Positive thinking can have a real impact on your life—from your mental health to your physical wellbeing. The Mayo Clinic cites health benefits that can come with positive thinking, including:

  • Increased life span
  • Lower rates of depression
  • Greater resistance to the common cold
  • Reduced risk from cardiovascular disease
  • Better coping skills during times of stress

According to the Mayo Clinic, “Positive thinking doesn’t mean that you keep your head in the sand and ignore life’s less pleasant situations. Positive thinking just means that you approach unpleasantness in a more positive and productive way.”

Elin Aldrich, the Y’s Journey to Freedom Program Director echoes this and says, “Being positive doesn’t mean never complaining or talking about the challenges you face—but it does mean being mindful of how you approach these conversations, and who you have them with.”

Before you find yourself in a loop of negative thoughts, Aldrich suggests doing a few things to help set yourself up to be productive when the going gets tough:

  • Spend time developing a vision for what you want, and use this vision to help keep you motivated
  • Create a declaration or mantra that you can use to counteract your negative voice—for example, if at work you find yourself thinking “People won’t take me seriously,” you might prepare a declaration like “I am supposed to be here,” that you can focus on the next time negativity creeps into your workday
  • Identify a confidant that helps you feel safe when you are vulnerable—someone that knows you and wants to see the best for you—and then call this person to help you process emotions that crop up during a tough situation
  • Find things that you enjoy doing, and then listen to your body to help you get out of ruminating on negative thoughts—this might mean heading to a Group Exercise class, or doing something you enjoy like brewing a great cup of tea
  • Dedicate time in your schedule to be present with yourself and your thoughts—try journaling, meditating or praying

And when you find yourself struggling to focus on the positives in life, Johns Hopkins Medicine suggests:

  • Smiling—even a forced smile can help reduce your heart rate and blood pressure
  • Reframing the situation—rather than stressing about a traffic jam, practice gratitude in being able to afford a car or have a few extra minutes to listen to the radio
  • Taking action—problems or challenges usually don’t resolve themselves, consider what steps you can take to create a change