Thursday, May 14, 2009

How to Maintain a Healthy Attitude

You cannot control what happens to you, but you can control your attitude toward what happens to you, and in that, you will be mastering change rather than allowing it to master you. Brian Tracy

In today's tough economic times it is difficult to maintain a healthy attitude. I know that I am feeling some stress over the layoffs, bankruptcies, and forclosures reported in the news each day. Even if you are not directly affected, here in Michigan for sure, we all know someone who is and that makes it difficult to stay positive.

So why is it so important to try to maintain a positive attitude anyway? Optimism directly influences our health, quality of life as we age and may even improve our longevity. Being an optimist and having a positive attitude may also help reduce our risk of dying from heart disease and many other types of illnesses. Other benefits of a healthy attitude include:

  • Better ability to deal with work and other daily activities

  • Fewer limitations due to pain and emotional stress

  • Increased energy and exuberance

  • A more peaceful, calm and relaxed state of mind

  • Better and longer lasting social connections

  • An easier time dealing with life’s frustrations and challenges

On the other hand, negative thoughts may cause you to be more prone to illness due to a weakened immune system and can seriously impact your social interactions. Pessimists are those that see life in a negative light and always expect the worst. When the "worst" actually happens they either blame themselves or go on living thinking that things will always go bad. As you can imagine, this sort of negative attitude will weigh you down both mentally and physically.

So how do you create and maintain a healthy attitude?

  • Exercise. Fitness and exercise releases endorphins, which make you feel good and feel healthy.

  • Eat well. The body and mind connection is a powerful thing. How we eat directly influences our mental outlook.

  • Get Out. Being outside does wonders for almost everyone. In fact, the more contact with nature we have, the better we feel.

  • Laugh Often. They say that laughter is the best medicine, and that a life full of smiling and laughing, from whatever cause will uplift you, and make your more vibrant and healthy.

  • Get plenty of rest. Sleep refreshes you, gives you more energy, and relieves stress.

  • Elevate and defuse stressful situations. Weigh what's important and what's not. Take a few deep breaths. Instead of getting upset, seek out a simple distraction.

  • Try meditation. It may be difficult at first to sit still and do nothing, bu you'll be amazed at how relaxed you can feel. (Yoga can help focus your mind and body culminating in this stillness.)

  • Get in touch. Cultivate a network of friends and acquaintances. Make sure there's someone you feel close to, a confidant who can provide support.

  • Let go. Express your feelings. When you allow yourself room to feel and show emotions, you reduce stress and a tendency toward pessimism. But don't dwell on your emotions - move on.

Although you may feel that people/you have a predisposition toward optimism or pessimism, an optimistic attitude can be learned, practiced and adopted. When faced with a challenge, stressful situation or frustration, make the decision to address it with a positive attitude or at least not a completely pessimistic one. Over time, with practice, you will begin to see that each and every challenge you face is an opportunity to grow in some way, making you a stronger, more positive and ultimately healthier you.

- Shannan

Sources:, St. John Health System

1 comment:

Hanlie said...

So true! We really do ourselves, and the people around us, a disservice when we're negative. I usually run a mile from negative people!

This blog is for informational purposes only. Nothing in this blog is intended to replace the advice of a physician. We recommend consulting a physician before embarking on diet changes or a fitness routine. In addition, we recommend that you thoroughly research alternate points of view and make your own decisions as an informed consumer. You are ultimately responsible for your health.