9 Health Benefits of an Optimistic Outlook

Conceptual positive thinking, happy strong

Can positive thinking improve your health?

You can’t cure cancer, lose weight, or lower your cholesterol just by thinking about it.

So skip the slick infomercials, supplement aisle, and social media ads for miracle cures and magical weight-loss products.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way. Let’s take a closer look at the power of positive thinking and your health. Because it’s not all just in your head or woo-woo science.

Positive or negative: A crash-and-burn lesson about the way you think

Olympic skier Jackie Wiles topped 80 miles per hour on a downhill course in a World Cup Race. She hit turn after turn perfectly using her skis, poles, and body.

A week later, she was racing against the best downhill skiers in the world. And then something happened.

At the peak of her career as a world-class athlete, Wiles lost her balance. She spun out of control and veered off course.

When race officials reached her on the snow-covered slope, she couldn’t walk. The impact tore ligaments, broke two bones in her leg, and caused other injuries.

Even before surgery, Wiles knew she had a choice. Give up, quit skiing, and do something else. Or focus on getting better and stronger to ski like a pro again.

What would you do? Dwell on the negative or focus on the positive?

9 Health Benefits of Positive Thinking

After the ski slope crash, Jackie was taken away on a stretcher. She needed surgery to repair torn ligaments, broken bones, and damage to her knee. Then came physical therapy. Every step of the way to recovery, she’s focusing on the positive.

“Scars tell stories and show what I’ve been through and the strength from within,” says Jackie. “I’m going to come out stronger from this.”

And she did. She recently competed in the 2022 Winter Olympics in the Women’s Alpine Skiing Downhill event.

It’s good to focus on the positive or look on the bright side, even when things go wrong. It can improve your health and quality of life in many ways. Research shows that cultivating an optimistic outlook can help:

    1. Lower the risk for heart disease
    2. Improve longevity and quality of life
    3. Bounce back from negative events faster
    4. Improve well-being and quality of life
    5. Support and protect the immune system
    6. Reduce blood pressure
    7. Support healthy relationships
    8. Protect brain function and memory as you age
    9. Reduce worry, stress, anxiety, and depression

The Optimistic Outlook: 8 Ways to Think Positive

Are you already an optimistic person? Keep up the good work. But what if you tend to focus on the negative, or catch yourself thinking the worst? Practice positive thinking.

Here are 8 ways to develop a positive mindset:

1. Start your day with positive thoughts. When you wake up, do you start worrying about everything on your to-do list and what could go wrong? Stop. Start your day with a positive thought like: “Today is going to be a great day.”

2. Be grateful. It’s another way of saying, “look for the positive.” For example, when you’re stuck in traffic, be grateful for extra time to listen to your favorite song or podcast.

3. Keep a gratitude journal. Take a few minutes each day to write down a few things you’re grateful for. Even little things matter, like clean air, a beautiful sunset, or all green lights on your way to work.

4. Laugh more. It’s a great way to boost your mood, feel happier, and be more positive. Read or listen to funny jokes. Watch a comedy. And look for humor, even in difficult situations. When you laugh, endorphins are released in the brain that help improve your mood.

5. Make time for exercise. Aim for 30 to 60 minutes a day. Break it up into smaller chunks of time if that fits your schedule better. Go for a walk. Ride a bike. Hit the gym. Take a fitness class. You’ll feel better, think better, and be more positive.

6. Learn from failure. When something doesn’t turn out the way you expected, it’s easy to focus on what went wrong. Change the way you think about failure. Turn it into a learning opportunity. Inventor Thomas Edison said: “I have not failed 10,000 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those 10,000 ways will not work.”

7. Stop, think, choose. Pay attention to what you say and think. When you catch yourself making a negative statement or comment, Stop. Think about what you’re saying. And Choose to reframe it with a positive statement.

Here’s an example:

    • Stop: I’ll never be able to eat a healthy diet.
    • Think: That’s not true. I just ate a cookie, but I eat healthy foods, too.
    • Choose: I’m working on eating a healthier diet. I’ll make better choices next time.

8. Surround yourself with positive people. You may not be able to avoid Debbie Downer or Bob Bummer if they’re your co-workers or part of your family. But you can surround yourself with positive people. Being around people with a positive outlook will help you learn to think this way, and avoid dwelling on the negative.

Positive thinking won’t solve all your problems or turn your life into a magical fairy tale. But it can improve your physical and mental health, help you live longer, and feel happier.

The 7-Minute Mindfulness Practice

Start your day off right with just a few minutes of focus

If you wake up in the morning, grab your smartphone, and start scrolling through messages, you’re not the only one.

Maybe you get dressed, grab a cup of coffee, and dash out the door. Or maybe you feel stressed out, like every day is a battle to tick things off your to-do list.

That might be your morning routine. But it’s not the kind of morning routine that helps you be healthy, happy, and productive.

Take a different approach to the first few minutes of your day. Slowing down long enough to “smell the roses” can have a positive impact on your life in more ways than one.

How? Meditation helps lower anxiety and stress, according to a study by the U.S. Army Research Laboratory.

Research also shows that being mindful can:

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Improve mood
  • Help you relax
  • Improve sleep quality
  • Reduce pain
  • Promote creativity
  • Improve memory & thinking
  • Help you focus

If you want to do more than just react to the events of the day, a well-planned morning routine can help. And it doesn’t have to take long.

With just 7-10 minutes a day, you can change the way you think and feel to be happier, healthier, and more productive.Practice Mindfulness Daily Here’s how:

1. Read. Take 1-2 minutes to read about something that interests you. A book, article, or blog post, for example.

2. Be active. Go outside, weather permitting. Take a brisk walk. Jump rope. Or just stretch your muscles. This isn’t your 30-minute workout. Just be active for 1-2 minutes.

3. Meditate. Sit in a quiet and comfortable place. Some people use this time to pray. Others simply focus on breathing for 1-2 minutes.

4. Be mindful. Now focus on what you want to accomplish and habits you want to form for 1-2 minutes. (Start with a small goal you can track and measure. For example:

  • “I will eat more fruits and vegetables for a week.”
  • “I will exercise at least 30 minutes a day.”
  • “I will manage stress in healthy ways.”

5. Visualize. Now imagine yourself making these decisions throughout your day. For example, picture yourself eating a leafy-green salad, going for a walk, and calmly handling a stressful situation at home or work. Visualize for 1-2 minutes.

6. Write. Wrap up your morning routine by writing. Create an action plan for things you will do. Write down lessons you have learned. Or keep a list of things you’re grateful for. But keep it simple. This should only take 1-2 minutes.

What do you get out of a morning routine like this? You get a framework to improve your health, break bad habits, and create healthier ones. And it only takes 7-10 minutes. That’s the real benefit of a well-planned morning routine.

4 Surprising Health Benefits of Organic Gardening

Grow your own, and reap the health benefits
Thinking about cleaning up your diet, and doing something to help the environment at the same time?

Try organic gardening. No, you don’t need a tractor, acres of land, or denim overalls and a straw hat. It’s simple to get started and provides a number of health benefits.

Go organic: Grow your own

If you’ve got a backyard, live on a farm, or call an apartment in the city home, you’ve got options for organic gardening, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Before you get started, you may want to test the pH level of the soil you plan to use (available at most hardware or garden supply stores). Based on the results, adding specific nutrients to the soil can improve your harvest.

Here’s how to plan your organic garden:

  • Backyard or farm: Till up a patch of ground, or create a raised bed to grow organic foods. Plant starters. Use natural fertilizers or mulch. And make sure the plants get plenty of sun and water.
  • Small space or short on time: Don’t have a yard, or you don’t have time to take care of a bigger garden? You can use a planter to grow organic herbs (basil, mint, parsley, oregano, etc.) for cooking, seasoning, and salad.
  • Best organic plants for beginners: If you’re thinking about growing organic produce, good plants to start with include peas, spinach, lettuce, carrots, and radishes during cooler weather. Try growing green beans, zucchini, tomatoes, basil, and sunflowers during warmer weather.

So what are the health benefits of organic gardening?

Maybe you just like gardening. Plant some fruits, vegetables, or herbs. Watch them grow, and enjoy. That’s a start, but there are some other benefits to organic gardening, according to Harvard University, like:

 

  1. Make healthier choices. Growing an organic garden is a great way to help you be more mindful of your food choices. Did you know only 1 in 10 adults eat the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables per day? Most adults should eat 1.5 to 2 cups of fruit per day and 2 to 3 cups of vegetables per day.
  2. Avoid fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides. When you grow your own fruits and vegetables, you don’t have to use fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides, which have been linked to certain types of cancer and other health problems.
  3. Get more vitamins and nutrients. When produce is harvested to sell in a grocery store, it’s usually in transit for days or weeks. And it loses nutritional value. Organic produce straight from your garden is packed with vitamins and nutrients.
  4. Be more active. Here’s something NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis) about organic gardening. It can help you be more active, according to the American Council on Exercise. NEAT activity happens when you’re digging a hole, pulling weeds, planting, or caring for your garden. Your heart rate goes up. You’re burning extra calories. And your heart, lungs, and muscles get a workout without the formality of going to the gym.

Hungry for better health? Give organic