There’s a reason that the phrase “mind over matter” exists, and it’s not merely a clever way to motivate people. In fact, there’s a relationship between thoughts and actions. But recent studies in health education have suggested that there’s also a correlation between attitude and health, and possibly even things as significant as DNA and fitness. Luckily, there are ways to combat this by taking back control of your thoughts and emotions.
Stress and the Body
Behaviors such as pessimism (having a negative outlook and assuming the worst), rumination (focusing on negative thoughts and ignoring positives), and hostility (seeing oneself as a victim or taking anger out on others) can have physical side effects. While these thought patterns can seem harmless, research by Nobel-winning scientist Elizabeth Blackburn and psychologist Elissa Epel explains how these thoughts can impact the body. Their findings, documented in the book The Telomere Effect: A Revolutionary Approach to Living Younger, Healthier and Longer, indicate that negative thoughts can shorten telomeres, which are the part of chromosomes that determine a person’s exercising and eating habits.
As the body naturally ages, telomeres shorten over time, but these types of thoughts can shorten them more rapidly. However, with professional help, improved lifestyle choices, and small changes, a person may be able to overcome negative thinking and improve both mental and physical health.
The Power of Positivity
Positive thinking over time can help to alleviate stress, grief, and even depression. It is also shown to reduce high blood pressure or difficulty sleeping. Activities like meditation, journaling, and meeting with a counselor or support group can help make expressing feelings happen more easily, while also offering tools to clear the mind and develop resilience.
Making the Shift
Many studies in health education support the fact that positive thinking can improve physical health, but it’s not always easy to incorporate more positivity in the first place. However, the first step to increasing positivity is to recognize the negativity. This can be done by challenging or questioning negative thoughts, finding time for calming passions, and surrounding oneself with other positive people. Especially for elderly individuals, a strong community and social activities may help create a positive environment, potentially leading to a shift in thinking.
Positivity doesn’t happen overnight, and many underestimate just how difficult it can be. However, making small changes every day can yield significant results over time, and the science is there to back it up. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by negative thoughts, it’s important to contact a medical professional to determine the best treatment for you.
Call our team at Heritage Victor Valley Medical Group at (800) 655-9999 to learn about your options for mental and physical healthcare services.