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You Are What You Think: How Your Thoughts Impact Your Health

What you think about can greatly impact your health and well-being. Despite this, an estimated 80% of our thoughts every day are negative, which can lead to a slew of health issues. To make matters more difficult, human beings were designed to be negative thinkers. The odds might sound stacked, but there are actual ways to interrupt the cycle of negative thinking and improve your health and well-being in the process!

Humans Were Designed to Focus on the Negative

Have you ever received an insult and a compliment on the same day? Chances are you have. However, you may not have heard the compliment because you were so fixated on the insult. This is what scientists refer to as the human brain’s negativity bias and it has the power to ruin your whole day, if you let it. If you’re wondering who to thank for this negative predisposition we all share, look no further than evolution. Earlier in human history, paying attention to threats in the world was a matter of life and death. Our ancestors that were more attuned to danger were more likely to survive. Thousands of years later, we still carry these genes despite living in safer environments. Although this adaptation to hone in on the negative was key to human survival, it is now doing us more harm than good. Out of the 12,000-50,000 thoughts you have every day, it is estimated that 80% of those are negative. This creates stress and anxiety, which can lead to a tight and uncomfortable body and other, more serious health complications.

How to Tell if Negative Thinking is Impacting your Health

Besides being unpleasant, negative thinking can have a variety of impacts on your physical and emotional health and well-being. Below is a list of common signs and symptoms that negative thinking is taking a toll on your health:

  • Hypertension

  • Weakened immune system

  • Headaches

  • Muscle/joint pain and/or fibromyalgia

  • Dysregulated hormone functioning

  • Fatigue

  • Stomach/digestive issues and disruptions

  • Sleep disturbances

Prolonged negative thinking also increases mental health issues such as anxiety and/or depression. You may also be at a greater risk for substance, alcohol, and food abuse. Despite humans’ natural inclination toward negative thinking, we have the ability to break the cycle and cultivate more positive thoughts.

How to Cultivate Positive Thinking

Since our brains have grown accustomed to negative thinking, breaking this cycle can be difficult. However, with plenty of patience and self-love, you can start unlocking the chains that bind your brain to negative thinking. Here are some ways to start cultivating a relationship with positive thinking:

  • Identify your pain points: What thoughts are you spending ample negative time on? The weather, your job, your relationships? It’s helpful to take inventory of your most persistent pain points and then work on the ones that are the easiest to replace with positivity.

  • Always return to good things: Life is full of downs, just like it is full of ups. Just because you try to have more positive thoughts, doesn’t mean that bad things won’t happen. When they do happen, you have the opportunity to breathe, let it pass, and return to the good things in your life instead. By focusing on the ups, you will be able to handle the downs with a more grounded, realistic attitude.

  • Express your gratitude: Find someone, or something, that you can thank every day for making your life a little better.

  • Focus on Your Positive Relationships: Spending time with people that are positive can be contagious, just like negativity can.

  • Repeat an affirmation: Pick a small, yet powerful statement that can bring you back to yourself when life starts hitting the fan. Some examples: “I’m going to be okay”, “everything is working for my benefit”, or even a simple, spiritual prayer that gives you peace. Repeat often and as needed.

Final Thoughts

Negative thinking is a comfortable state to be in, even if it hurts us, because that is how we are designed. We are not bad people for being negative thinkers, but we don’t have to stay that way. Breaking the cycle of negative thinking can be difficult, but it’s a practice that has the power to transform your health and set you free. If you’re ready to start cultivating more positive thinking, start with small pain points, focus on the ups (even if you’re in a down), express your gratitude daily, spend more time in positive relationships, and choose an affirmation that resonates with you and you feel comfortable repeating often. We may have been born this way, but we have the power to choose different thoughts and improve our lives every single day!

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