Health & Medicine

Positive thinking can result in better health

Are the thoughts that run through your head mostly positive or negative?

Besides making you more pleasant to be around, positive thinking has health benefits, studies from major universities report. The main benefit is less stress, which leads to less depression; greater resistance to illness; and reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, gastrointestinal dysfunction, obesity, diabetes, hair loss and sexual dysfunction.

It has been estimated that as many as 90 percent of visits to the doctor are for symptoms at least partially related to stress.

For the sake of your health and those around you, practice positive self-talk. Self-talk is that endless stream of thoughts that run through your head. If the thoughts are mostly negative, you are probably a pessimist. If the thoughts are positive, you are more likely an optimist.

The Mayo Clinic identified common forms of negative self-talk. They include:

■ Filtering. You magnify the negative aspects of a situation and filter out all of the positive ones. For example, you had a great day at work, but one small thing went wrong, and that is all you think about all evening.

■ Personalizing. You automatically blame yourself when something bad occurs.

■ Catastrophizing. You automatically anticipate the worst.

■ Polarizing. You see things as black or white, good or bad, with no middle ground. You feel that if you aren't perfect, you are a total failure.

In reports of people's happiness, only 10 percent can be explained by differences in their circumstances. Happiness is determined by your personality, your behaviors and your thoughts.

It takes time, but here are some ways recommended by the Mayo Clinic to change negative thinking into positive thinking. Identify areas of your life about which you tend to think negatively and try to find something positive there. If you are always grumbling about work, look for something good at work and be grateful for it. Seek humor in everyday activities. You'll feel less negative and less stressed when you are laughing.

Follow a healthy lifestyle. A healthy diet and exercising at least three times a week reduce stress and positively affecs mood. Don't smoke. If you consume alcohol, drink in moderation. Surround yourself with other positive people. Say only good things to yourself and refrain from criticism of others.

Try new experiences, and challenge yourself. Spend time in activities you enjoy. Have a goal. People with goals are happier because they have a sense of purpose.

Start positive self-talk today, and have less stress, more happiness and better health.