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How Positive Thinking Benefits Your Mental Health|Anxiety and Depression

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Powerful Ways that Positive Thinking Benefits Your Mental Health

Have you ever wondered how positive thinking benefits your mental health ? Do you ever beat yourself up over a failure?  Get bogged down when things don’t go your way?  Maybe you believe in Murphy’s Law in which anything that can go wrong will go wrong.

During my time in the U.S. Army, I had the notion to ‘hope for the worse and expect even worse’.  That way when something bad happened, I was indifferent.  But when something actually good happened, I was genuinely pleased. 

To Understand Positive Thinking is to Understand Negative Thinking

First, we are going to talk about what negative thinking is.  Negative thinking is having a negative perception of yourself and the world around you.  Despite what many may say, negative thinking is a natural response to adverse occurrences in life.  However, embracing negative thinking can become detrimental to your way of life.

5 Impacts of Negative Thinking

  1. Produces an environment that can lead to addiction
  2. Feeds depression and anxiety and interferes with mental well being
  3. Pessimism contributes to social isolation
  4. Limits your self-confidence
  5. Leads to feelings of hopelessness and helplessness.

Related: Self Confidence Begins with a New Pair of Panties

Examples of negativity

  • Magnifying the negative aspects of a situation
  • Taking things too personally
  • Catastrophizing
  • Accepting defeat

What is Positive Thinking?

Being a positive thinker is more than just being an optimist.  Optimism is having the belief that good things will happen.  Positive thinking is being able to cope and affirmatively overcome regardless of a situation’s outcome.  While optimism focuses on the future, positive thinking reflects on the present.

the-pessimist-and-optimist-quote-winston-churchill

12 Ways to Develop Positive Thinking Habits

  1. Start the day with actionable positive affirmations. Nothing changes without taking action. For example, my favorite affirmation is, “work harder than the man in the mirror.”  Every time I read this line, I dig deep within myself and find a sense of purpose, an abstract goal that keeps me motivated.
  2. Be kind to yourself and set goals.  It’s too easy to look in the mirror and think, ‘I’m too fat’, or after a day of binge-watching Netflix think, ‘I’m too lazy’.  Instead, set goals to think progressively.  For example, replace ‘I’m too fat’ with ‘I would like to lose weight.  Replace ‘I’m too lazy’ with ‘tomorrow I want to be more productive’.
  3. Avoid negative thinking traps. By changing your thought process, you can address the issue at hand and become self-empowered to provide yourself productive encouragement.
  4. Avoid drugs or alcohol when you are experiencing negative emotions. Alcohol is a depressant.  Using alcohol while feeling down will only worsen your emotional state. Using alcohol and other drugs as a means of coping with stress, anxiety, depression, anger, or other negative emotions, can progress and lead to addiction.
  5. Focus on positive outcomes. In life, inevitably, things go wrong. However, we have the choices and opportunities to control our emotional outcomes.  If you immediately jump to conclusions, you will find yourself catastrophizing as we discussed above.  But by allowing yourself to objectively review your situation, you will more than likely take away a beneficial experience.
  6. Turn failures into lessons Ask yourself, “How can I learn from this experience.”  Use moments of failures as self-improvement opportunities.
  7. Be willing to try again. The will to try again is the opposite of accepting defeat.  After turning failures into lessons, you will be able to take different approaches with potentially better results.
  8. Realize that the future is not fixed. Reflect on this: Every single moment in your life led you to right now.  Now I want you to honestly consider how many of those bad days were really inconsequential to the present.  I bet you there are a lot.  Not every tough day will be life-changing, sometimes life happens and then your life continues on business as usual.
  9. Stay consistent. It is not easy to be optimistic all the time, but consistency is key in creating emotionally healthy thinking habits. 
  10. Surround yourself with positive people. You don’t have to do it alone.  Ask for help and learn from others.  When I am looking for motivational and inspirational people to learn from, I listen to podcasts.  In my opinion, Tony Robbins is the epitome of motivation and one of my favorite motivational speakers.
  11. Celebrate your successes. Don’t downplay yourself.  Be willing to acknowledge your efforts and successes.  There is nothing arrogant about recognizing your achievements.  Taking a moment to acknowledge your success opens the door to feelings of purpose and fulfillment.
  12. Explore your creativity. Exploring your creativity facilitates and expressive environment and promotes healthy thinking patterns. In a recent article by Rock Content, the writer states:

“Creative thinking refers to using abilities and soft skills to come up with new solutions to problems. Creative thinking skills are techniques used to look at the issue from different and creative angles, using the right tools to assess it and develop a plan.”

Some ideas for exploring your creativity :

  • Journaling
  • Creating mind maps
  • Exploring the pros and cons of situations
  • Asking others to help come up with ideas
  • Doing “brain dumps” to explore your thoughts and ideas

Related: Marianne Williamson Daily Meditations for Everyday Life

5 Positive Thinking Attributes

  1. Being able to appreciate the best of life
  2. Having the awareness to focus on the positives
  3. Being able to accept reality regardless of what the outcome is.
  4. Motivating others around you
  5. Hope that positive things can happen.

9 positive thinking benefits has on your emotional and physical well-being

Reduces Stress

Stressful situations in life are inevitable.  The ability to look for positives in stressful situations and working towards a resolution can reverse dissatisfaction into encouragement.

Improve self esteem and The ability to think positively about yourself frees you from self-doubt.  Believing in yourself opens the door to opportunities you would have otherwise considered unachievable.

Related: Self Confidence Begins with a New Pair of Panties

Increases immunity

Researchers found that people who are more optimistic have a stronger immune response than those who are pessimistic about the same issue.

Improves wellness

Wellness is the state of physical, mental, emotional, and social well-being

Give you a sense of purpose

Positive thinkers have heightened self-respect and acknowledge meaning in their lives.

Related: Who Am I? Hope for Uncertain Times

Builds resilience

Resilience is the ability to recover from difficulties and tough situations.  I can never forget how the Army taught resiliency:

Be like a tennis ball; it is flexible and bounces back from hard surfaces.  Don’t be like the egg; it breaks easily under pressure and impact.

With more resilience comes more adaptability.  Positive thinking helps you adapt to stressful situations and accept change

Higher self-esteem

Positive thinking builds your self-image.  The more credibility you give yourself, the more you value you see in yourself.

Improves mood and calms your mind

Positive thinking can calm your mind, allowing you to let go of negative thoughts.  This allows you to become more self-aware of what may trigger those negative thoughts to avoid those thinking traps.

Related: 50 Ways to Stop Your Racing Thoughts

10 cliches about being optimistic

  1. “The glass is half full rather than half empty”
  2. “Keep your head up”
  3. “Hunt the good stuff”
  4. “Love thyself”
  5. “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”
  6. “Everything happens for a reason”
  7. “You haven’t failed until you quit”
  8. “Be yourself”
  9. “Nothing is impossible”
  10. “It’s what’s inside you that counts”

Activities that Help Change Your Mindset

Listen to music that puts you in a positive state of mind.  Check out 70 Encouraging Christian Songs for Anxiety and Depression to discover uplifting songs.

Exercising regularly can help boost your self-esteem and encourage productivity.  Exercise allows you to set goals and self-reflect on your personal expectations. Don’t let all that exercise go to waste.  Learn to maintain a healthy diet.  Eating healthy foods will help you feel more energetic throughout the day.

Yoga is also an effective way to boost your mental clarity. If you haven’t tried it, I encourage you to start with some beginner yoga. There are some free resources available at Better Listen.

Invest in ‘me time’.  Doing hobbies that make you feel good trigger pleasuring thoughts and a positive attitude.  For me, it is writing or watching Star Wars.  For you it could be fishing, eating, or surfing the internet.  Whatever it is, pursue it and allow it to bring you pleasure.

Use positive words.  Replacing “I can’t” and “I won’t” with “I can” and “I will” suggest helpful alternatives to improve your growth and self-development.  Give yourself a pep talk.  Every time I go to the gym, I give tell myself, “You can do this!” and “You have what it takes!” before my heavy lifts.  I didn’t always achieve that lift, but I definitely believed in myself.

replace-negative-thoughts-for-positive-results-willie-nelson-quote

Start volunteering your time to nonprofit organizations.  Helping others is another example of how you can achieve a sense of purpose.

Socialize with others.  We talked about how negative thinking affects social interactions, but now let us address what socializing with others can alter negative thinking.  If you have the mindset that socializing with friends and family can improve your mood, you aren’t going to rain on anyone’s parade.  In fact, you might find common ground that uplifts everyone involved – which brings us to our next point.

Engage with social support groups.  Social support groups exist to help a community cope with their struggles, open the door to more opportunities, and rise up together.  Support groups promote a healthy channel for communication for groups of people with similar life hardships.

Get 8 hours of sleep.  A positive attitude starts with a rested mind.  Sleep allows the brain to process memory information and recharge.

If you have difficulties sleeping, mindful meditation can help relax your mind, your body, and have a more restful sleep. Listening to meditations at bed time also can shift your mindset and clear your mind which is especially effective if you suffer from anxiety and depression or other mental illness.

7 inspirational positive thinking quotes

  1. “Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you’ll start having positive results.” – Willie Nelson
  2. “Things work out best for those who make the best of how things work out.” – John Wooden
  3. “The past is a place of reference, not a place of residence; the past is a place of learning, not a place of living.” – Roy T. Bennett
  4. “The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty.” – Winston Churchill
  5. “But you will admit that it is a very good thing to be alive.” – L. Frank Baum
  6. “We may encounter many defeats, but we must not be defeated.” – Maya Angelou
  7. “Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.” – Albert Einstein
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Note from the author

Know when to grieve; positive thinking is not a save all.  Also, know when to think realistically.  Positive thinking will not change the world around you, it will only change your perspective of the world.

Positive thinking takes time.  Don’t expect your behavior to change over-night.  Achieving the expectations of your results derives from the consistency of your habits.

So, what are you waiting for?  The power of positive thinking is an incredible technique to improve your overall well-being.  Take the time to identify your personal mindset and adopt these skills of positive thinkers to boost their mental health.

About Geoffrey Zziwambazza

Geoffrey-Zziwambazza-Headshot
Geoffrey Musoke Zziwambazza, Author

With five years of military service in the US Army, Geoffrey has learned how important positive thinking is to stay focused and improve productivity.

Some of his writing includes social issues, particularly his personal experience with racial inequality in his article How Racial Inequality Affected Me.

You can follow Geoffrey’s literary journey at his website, Culture Conceived where his mission is to provide resources, advice, and inspiration to the community of writers.

Note from Trinity’s Hope, LLC:

The skills, tips, and how to’s presented in this article are cognitive behavioral in nature. If you have anxiety, depression, or other mental illness, these skills are best worked through with a therapist. If you are in need of finding a therapist, or are unsure how to seek one, please see How to Find a Therapist for Anxiety and Depression.

32 thoughts on “How Positive Thinking Benefits Your Mental Health|Anxiety and Depression”

    1. nancy.richardson

      Geoffrey is an amazing writer and really hit so many aspects of positive thinking. I even learned a few things from it and investing in me time just happened to be one of them also lol! Thanks for taking the time to read 🙂

    2. Thank you for the kind words, Kate.

      Being able to take time for yourself is very important. It’s very common for people to burn themselves out because they are always driven towards future success, but taking a moment to enjoy the present is an easy reminder that life doesn’t have to be an endless, weary grind.

  1. Karletta Marie

    Brilliant article. Excellent information with practical suggestions. One of my favorites here “Turn failures into lessons” …

    I have a friend who says, “failure is feedback” … giving us the lesson we need to move past, correct our decision making and continue forward ..

    1. nancy.richardson

      I love that! I have never heard “failure us feedback,” But it is so very true! I am at a place in life right now where I am reflecting upon the first 50 years of my life and all of the things I have learned. Thinking positive is definitely one of them.

    2. Thanks for the awesome feedback, Karletta Marie.

      So many failures put me on the path to success. Like when I failed AP English my senior year and learned that just because it’s my native language it does not mean there isn’t so much to learn.

      Now look at me. I am pursuing writing as a career!

    1. nancy.richardson

      Yes. Telling ourselves positive things is so important. Putting them into action as well is just as important.

  2. Wonderful post. I highly appreciate the details about thinking and staying positive. Good sleep and mindful meditation are the key factors When it comes to maintaining a positive attitude. Thanks ?

    1. nancy.richardson

      Im sorry to hear your friend has depression. That can be so difficult. I hope this is helpful for him! Please see my note at the very end of the post. I’d love to hear if any of this was helpful for him. <3

    1. Life is definitely hard at times, Amira. 2020 is definitely a testament to that. But what someone once told me, “if life keeps going, then so can we”.

      At the time it sounded useless to how I was feeling. As I learned to cope with my struggles, though, I found that quote comforting.

      Whether I thought positively or negatively, my life moved on. So I decided to always try and have a positive outcome.

  3. Wow, what a great post, it’s always important to keep the world in perspective. It’s easy to react and be negative, but it’s so important for your mental health to keep in mind the bigger picture and the path you’re on. Thank you for writing this timely reminder

    1. nancy.richardson

      Geoffrey hit just about every point there is to hit about positive thinking. And most definitely it is easy to fall into that negativity trap. Thank you so much for taking the time to read and for your positive comment.

  4. Taking things too personally. Negative Thinking. That was all me, a couple of years ago. Thankfully, I broke free from that pattern at the right time, and I am getting really optimistic about life.

    1. nancy.richardson

      I am so guilty of taking things personal over the course of my life. I am a sensitive person by nature. I also broke free from it, but I still have to catch myself. It is so freeing and takes much less energy to be positive about things in life no matter what situation arises. I am so happy to hear that you have also broken free <3 Its SO LIBERATING !

  5. Great blog post! I love the tips/activities you listed to help shift to a positive mindset. Thanks for sharing!

    1. nancy.richardson

      This was written by Geoffrey of Culture Conceived and he absolutely hit just about every point there was to hit about negative thinking and the impact our positive thinking has on our mental health. I am so so happy that you enjoyed it and I am certain Geoffrey will be pleased to hear your kind words.

  6. Such an informative post! Negative thoughts is really an incubator for anxiety and depression. We all need some positivity in every area of our lives as it helps us withstand difficult situations.

    1. nancy.richardson

      Yes, I agree 100%. Positivity is a lifelong process for sure and I agree that negative thoughts are main contributors to many mental health disorders.

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