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Health Benefits of Positive Thinking

By Jerry Shaw ; Updated June 13, 2017

Positive thinking does produce favorable results for people who keep their mind in good shape. People who think positively have an optimistic view of life that affects their health and well-being, the Mayo Clinic explains. Thinking negatively can have an opposite effect, because pessimistic thoughts will bring the same results. Positive thinkers approach obstacles in life more productively and have an easier time overcoming them.

Increased Lifespan

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine have found that postmenopausal women who were optimistic had decreased rates of death and were less likely to be diabetic or suffer from hypertension than their negative counterparts. The researchers analyzed data from nearly 100,000 women in an ongoing study funded by the National Institutes of Health. The optimistic women were 30 percent less likely to die from heart disease than the pessimists. The negative-thinking women were 23 percent more likely to die from cancer.

Combats Depression

Pessimistic thinking is one of the factors in depression, Psychology Today reports. Improving the way you think by changing into a positive mental mood can help combat depression. Cognitive therapy, in which changing thought patterns to help improve people’s moods, has become a major part of treating depression.

Strengthens Immunity

Positive thinking is believed to help people fight off common colds and other ailments. Negative thinking may cause areas of the brain to weaken a person’s immune response to the flu vaccine, according to a 2003 study reported by the New York Times. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin analyzed people during a task that brought on negative emotions. It caused greater electrical activity in the part of the brain that weakened the immune response to the flu shot, as measured by their antibodies.

Coping with Disease

People with positive attitudes recover faster from surgery and cope better with serious diseases, such as cancer, heart disease and AIDS, according to Psych Central, a mental health social network operated by mental health professionals. A study of first-year law students found that the ones who were more optimistic than other students had better functioning immune cells than worried students, Psych Central reports.

Overcoming Stress and Hardships

Positive thinking allows people do cope better during hardships and reduce the stress in their lives. The Mayo Clinic advises that when thoughts cross your mind, evaluate them. Find ways to put positive spins on any negative thinking. If your mind is telling you a certain task is not going to work, tell yourself you can make it work using a different approach. Exercising at least three times a week can produce positive moods, which helps reduce stress. A healthy diet also keeps your body strong and your mind alert.

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