If you were asked, would you say you’re a positive person? Do you try to stay upbeat despite your fibromyalgia or other chronic illness symptoms? It’s no easy task. Pain, fatigue, and fibrofog combine to wreak havoc with your mood and plans to stay positive.
What can you do?
Surprising benefits of positivity
You’ve probably heard that being a person who leans on the lighter side of life has improved health. Here are just a few benefits you may not have considered. (1)
- Greater resistance to the common cold
- Longer lifespan
- Better coping skills under stress
- Lower rates of depression
Could you do with a healthier immune system, better resilience, and improved mood?
Most of us would say yes!
Interestingly, a majority of my clients say they’re already positive people. They refer to themselves as “glass half full” kind of folks. Some are externally positive and others may be quiet, reserved and introverted — yet positive.
But that doesn’t paint the entire picture.
As I work with them individually, I often hear the frustration in their voices as they refer to their past. They mention former relationships that fell apart, jobs that were lost, or health plans gone awry.
These are common occurrences for many people, but for those with chronic illnesses, there is oftentimes a dark secret that can aggravate symptoms. Clients share their experiences with me, and through our simple conversations, I can get a glimpse of what their inner dialogue is like. The things they say to themselves are often quite shocking and harsh. They may be extraordinarily hard on themselves. It’s no surprise that this negative inner chatter has a poisonous effect on their health goals.
The tendency toward negative inner dialogue is second nature. Here’s a quote from a recent article entitled “The Super Power of Intention.”
and focus on negative stimuli.”
For this reason, it’s natural to look for and focus on the negative. However, when this natural tendency becomes a constant occurrence, negativity takes over, creating a landslide of negative emotions.
Our bodies feel everything we think.
Every thought – either negative or positive – sends a cascade of emotions through the body. These emotions impact hormones and the hormones tell the body how to function. Therefore, our thoughts, and how often we think them, can have a great effect on our overall health.
negative impact on the body.
If you feel that you have a positive nature, don’t forget to consider what’s going on inside. What thoughts do you tell yourself day in and day out? For many of us, this happens outside our awareness and it takes a bit of focus to pay attention. Even if you’re not aware of the specific dialogue you have inside your head, you can become aware of the emotions.
Notice how what you see and hear makes you feel. Do specific TV shows or magazines make you feel sad or annoyed with yourself? At times, are you frustrated with your body’s lack of ability and do you compare yourself to others?
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When it comes to our tendencies towards both negativity and positivity, we’re always looking for balance. This takes some awareness and action on our part. The negative side happens naturally. The positive side takes intention.
You may believe that you’re simply “hardwired” towards negative thoughts or feelings and that there’s nothing you can do about it. You may have even been told this by others. Not only is this untrue (thank goodness!), but the rich benefits of making shifts in your thinking are more than worth the effort.
The study of epigenetics states that contrary to what we may believe, our tendencies, traits and even our genes are not “set in concrete.” We have extraordinary influence over our health by the behaviors we frequently engage in.
This includes our thoughts.
Because our behaviors can actually change the expression of our genes, it’s important to make changes in areas that have the greatest influence. This article, “Epigenetics! Fibromyalgia and You,” explains how our nutrition, emotions, environment, beliefs, and our perceptions shape who we are and how we think, feel, and heal.
Simple Shifts into Positivity
The good news is that simple changes can create powerful results. It doesn’t take radical effort to shift your inner (and outer) language to a more positive focus. The steps listed below are intentionally simple. While there are many more ways to encourage a positive nature, here are four easy ones to get you started.
- Shift your media exposures.I alluded to this topic earlier in this article. Once you begin to notice your media influences, you may be surprised at how many of them are negative. Do magazines depict impossibly thin, fit, and “perfect” people? It’s human nature to compare your own imperfections. (This may happen at the subconscious level beneath your conscious awareness.)What about the TV programs you watch, the news channels you listen to, the books you read, and your social media exposure? Do you belong to social media groups that lean toward complaining, futile discussions, and anxiety?As in all things, look for balance.
- Shift into gratitude.When it comes to mindset and health benefits, no other topic has been the focus of more studies and research than gratitude and thankfulness. Why? It’s one of the simplest practices to implement and it provides powerful and proven results.Creating an “attitude of gratitude” on a daily basis leads toward a positive outlook, greater clarity in thinking, an inner sense of peace and calm, and it sharpens the ability to find the beauty in life.You can find tips on creating your own simple gratitude practice in this article, “Do You Want a Grateful Brain?”
- Shift into creativity.Do you consider yourself a creative person? Even if you’re not a skilled painter, writer, dancer, or designer – you do have a creative side. What activities do you enjoy that allow your thoughts to drift and help you to feel relaxed?For some, walking, drawing, doodling, coloring, knitting, or listening to music can inspire creativity. It’s not as important to actually create something tangible as it is to do something that engages the relaxation response.Feeling creative allows parts of the brain responsible for problem-solving and clarity of mind to engage. Furthermore, participating in creative endeavors “recruits brain regions that are critical for daydreaming, imagining the future, remembering deeply personal memories, constructive internal reflection, making meaning of things, and social cognition.” (2)
The coloring book fad that has hit every bookstore and online bookseller has bloomed for good reason. Why not pick one up and start getting creative?
- Shift your scenery.When our day-in, day-out activities are the same, it’s easy to fall into a rut. We may do the same things at the same time each day and enjoy very little variety in life. This is especially true for those with disability or limited mobility issues.It’s important to change our routines, change what we see, and change where we go as much as possible. Allow yourself to say “yes” to that next lunch invitation – even if you don’t feel like it. Get out and sit in your garden or in a park even if “you don’t have time.” Change your view of the world so that you can broaden your daily experiences.Shifting your scenery helps you to move your body and engage your mind.
Of course, literally changing your scenery is good. But what if you can’t get out or have difficulty doing so? Try changing the scenery in your own home. Simply choose a different chair or place to sit and see how it feels. If possible, get help in moving furniture to change your view. Perhaps you can see the world from a different window or at least from a different angle.
Shifting your scenery engages the brain in different ways and stimulates a sense of wellness, and discovery.
Are you ready to get happy?
As you can see, developing a sense of positivity can be simple. Did you know that the simple act of smiling can change your brain chemistry for the better? (3)
The practices outlined in this article are intended to be easy. You can start this very minute. By shifting into positivity, you can shift your inner language to create more of an optimistic balance. That balance creates the fabulous health results listed above and so much more.
Are you ready for a healthier body? Shifting into a positive frame of mind is where it all begins.
For more information on the effects of a positivity, check out this article,
“The Study of Happiness: Science, Symptoms, and Solutions.”
“Keep your face to the sunshine,
and you cannot see a shadow.”
Sue Ingebretson is becoming a most sought after symptom-relief expert in the fibromyalgia and chronic illness communities. She’s known for getting to the root of her client’s health challenges and delivering long-term results using a light-hearted approach without quick-fix remedies that only mask symptoms. You can find out more and contact Sue at www.RebuildingWellness.com.
Do you know that breakfast has the greatest potential to contribute to your PAIN? Grab your free Stop Feeding Yourself PAIN guide here and learn why!
- Positive thinking: Stop negative self-talk to reduce stress
- The Real Neuroscience of Creativity
- There’s Magic in Your Smile