Living with Chronic Pain

The Power of Positivity


The brain and the body are inextricably connected; therefore, a person’s mental state can have a huge impact on their health. Studies have shown that negative thinking can have a detrimental effect on physical health and well-being. Negative thinking increases the risk of certain diseases and prolongs recovery time from illnesses and injuries.

What can positivity do?

There are various benefits of a positive attitude, including reduced stress. Stress is the body’s emotional, mental and physical response to any change that requires adaptation or reaction. When stress is severe or persistent, it can negatively affect mental and physical health.

Cognitive functioning

Positive thinking can decrease the risk for degenerative brain diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and dementia. A person’s outlook can have a positive or negative impact on their memory and other daily cognitive functioning skills.

Cardiovascular health

Positive thinking has been linked to a reduction in cardiovascular issues, including heart attacks or strokes. Positive thinkers with high risk factors and a family history of heart disease have a 13% less chance of having a coronary event than negative thinkers.

Decreased recovery time

Individuals who are more optimistic have a shorter recovery time from illnesses, such as the common cold. They also have a greater immune resistance to certain ailments.

Increased life span

Positive thinking has been linked to longevity. Individuals who think positively are more likely to engage in healthy activities that promote general well-being. This may include healthy eating, sleep hygiene, regular physical activity, and quitting smoking.

What positivity cannot do?

A sunny disposition will not cure illnesses, chronic or otherwise. Individuals with chronic illness are often told that they just need to remain positive and things will improve, or that focusing on the bright side will ease the problems. No matter how positive a person remains, there are situations that positivity can’t help, including pain, low energy, social difficulties, mental health issues, mortality, and financial strain. While positive thinking is a powerful tool, it has limitations.

Toxic positivity

Positivity can be “toxic” in certain situations. Each emotion is valid and has a purpose. To eliminate all unpleasant emotions in favor of happiness and positivity is as unhealthy as ruminating on only the uncomfortable emotions. Toxic positivity frequently places shame on a person for experiencing valid emotions. Instead of denying negative emotions or brushing them off, it is beneficial to manage them and interact with them in a healthy manner. Uncomfortable emotions are a part of life that everyone experiences, and learning how to exist alongside those feelings is an important part of a healthy mindset.

Additional sources: Verywell Mind and Verywell Mind

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