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wellness / mental health

How Positive Thinking Can Improve Your Mental Health

by BetterSleep
Sep 14 • 2 min read

A more positive outlook on life is beneficial to your mental health. You can reduce your risk of depression, manage stress, and be happier by focusing on the positive. Use affirmations, practice gratitude, and learn to recognize, stop, and change your negative thoughts. Daily practice will make this a life-changing habit.

What Is Positive Thinking?

Positive thinking is pretty much what it sounds like: approaching life with an optimistic outlook. This doesn’t mean ignoring the negative—it’s all about your attitude. You can choose whether to react to everyday situations in a productive and positive way.

The opposite is a pessimistic or negative attitude. Negative thinking means seeing the worst in a situation or expecting the worst to happen. Many people direct their negative thoughts inward. It’s common to be harder on yourself than others.

Positive thinking can take many forms:

  • Identifying and stopping negative thoughts, then approaching them with a more positive outlook
  • Focusing on gratitude and the good things in life
  • Positive affirmations—short, optimistic statements used daily to challenge negative thoughts
  • Spending more time with positive people
  • Embracing humor and laughing more
  • Practicing positive self-talk

How Is This Different from Toxic Positivity?

Positive thinking is generally more helpful and healthful than negative thinking. However, there can be a wrong way to go about it. Toxic positivity really came to the forefront of popular culture during the pandemic. As mental health issues rose, some people combatted their fear and anxiety by overdoing positivity.

Positive thinking becomes toxic when you feel forced to adopt a positive attitude when it isn’t natural or helpful. This tends to minimize your feelings. It’s often valid and healthy to feel sad. A study found that people who tend to completely avoid difficult emotions, like sadness or anger, often feel worse in the end.

Sometimes, other people force toxic positivity onto you. It can be upsetting if you’re going through a difficult time and someone tells you to be positive or to look on the bright side. In this case, try politely explaining to them why their advice isn’t sensitive to your situation, and what they can do instead to help you feel better.

How Positive Thinking and Affirmations Support Mental Health

It’s important to strike a balance between positive thinking and minimizing difficult thoughts and situations. Reasonable doses of positive thinking can help you shift your attitude and improve your mental health. Some of the benefits include:

  • Decreased stress
  • Lower rates of depression
  • Better coping skills for challenging situations
  • Improved quality of life
  • Better overall well-being

A study of nurses with significant job stress found that wellness apps helped boost their positive thinking. They reported a significantly improved work life quality and less stress, and were better able to cope with difficult situations that presented themselves on the job. Likewise, the BetterSleep app can also help you develop and maintain an optimistic outlook on life. We recommend trying our Shine Your Light Morning Practice and Self-Love Body Scan.

Practice positive thinking by using daily affirmations, and catching negative thoughts and self-talk and turning them around. Then use meditations to support your mental health and cement those affirmations. You’ll start feeling better about yourself and your life before you know it.

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