Improving Brain Health Through Positive Thinking

Buddha was on to something when he said, “The mind is everything. What you think, you become.” Negative thoughts impact our brains to an extent that most of us don’t fully understand.

A study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology reveals that negative thoughts can prevent you from processing information and thinking clearly. Researchers asked subjects to sort objects into two categories. They found that subjects who admitted to worrying over 50% of the time significantly struggled to sort the objects as the difficulty of the task increased.

How Negativity Affects Your Brain

If you have a hard time handling stress, or you resort to panic when faced with an obstacle, your brain may be affected by habitual negative thinking. The amygdala and limbic systems store negative experiences in your brain, initiating our fight or flight survival responses.

Some people who experience life-threatening situations suffer from PTSD, responding to certain triggers as if they are still under attack, but a lot of the pressure we face in our day-to-day lives often revolves around work, finances and loved ones. Have you ever experienced a mini panic attack on Sunday night because you know work is just a few hours away? That’s your brain going into survival mode due to your negative thoughts about work.

How to Think More Positively

Negative thinking is a bad habit that’s within your control to manage. Just as your body has to go to the gym a few times before it becomes habitual, your mind requires similar training before positive thinking can become second nature. Here are a few ways you can gain a more positive outlook on life.

  1. Practice Positive Affirmations: Speaking about yourself in a positive light can help build your self-esteem and reduce your self-doubt. Repeat positive phrases to yourself every day and display these phrases where you can see them daily.
  2. Exercise Visualization: Think about the accomplishments you want to achieve and create a vision board that displays your goals. This will motivate you to strive for your goals, whether you’re conscious of it or not.
  3. Use Positive Words: Every time you think “I can’t,” replace the negative word with a positive one; otherwise, you will develop a habit of doubting yourself. Start telling yourself, “I’ll do my best” or “I’ll try.” 
  4. Learn from Mistakes: Changing your outlook on mistakes can significantly reduce your stress level, and also help you take more risks. Think of a mistake as a learning experience, rather than the end of the world. You’re still here, and people make life-changing mistakes everyday.
  5. Face Your Fears: This one is a cliché, but it works wonders. Challenge yourself by facing your fears head-on. In most situations, you’ll find that you were just building things up in your head, allowing the fear to hold you back.
  6. Believe in Change: This one is especially important, because if you don’t believe you can change your mindset, the above suggestions most likely won’t produce results. Though this is not an overnight process, you are in control of your thoughts, so a little practice every day could lead to a more positive lifestyle.

“The positive thinker sees the invisible, feels the intangible and achieves the impossible.” – Winston Churchill.

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