Physical Benefits of Positive Thinking
Now, don’t go running away before reading a bit into the post. Many rational thinking, very bright nurses may have a hard time with the title of this post.
In a world where there is hardship and a profession where there are issues, one might question the impact of positive thinking.
Yup, I’ve heard it before. That’s just cockeyed optimism. When is she going to get her head out of the clouds? What are those – rose colored glasses?
Why, yes! I do wear rose colored frames.
And, no. This isn’t nonsense.
There’s real science behind the power of positive thinking.
There are actually many physical benefits to positive thinking. In fact, the Mayo clinic puts forth this list:
- Increased life span
- Lower rates of depression
- Lower levels of distress
- Greater resistance to the common cold
- Better psychological and physical well-being
- Better cardiovascular health and reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease
- Better coping skills during hardships and times of stress
Gosh, a longer life span with less stress and sickness? Improved physical health and enhanced capacity to cope with hardship?
I don’t care if you call me Pollyanna! I want me some of that!!
In fact, maybe if I thought positively, I don’t have to spend as much time at the gym? How’s that for positive thinking!?
All jokes aside, you can see that the research supports a positive lifestyle, What other benefits can we throw into the mix?
Patient Pill Compliance.
I actually have heard of the above benefits before, so they were no surprise to me. However, in doing the research for this blog post, I stumbled upon new information that I had not yet read about.
Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco found that patients with a new diagnoses of H.I.V. infection who practiced positive thinking were more likely to take their medication as prescribed.
My goodness, nurses! How about that?
We work diligently all shift to get our patients to see the value in taking their medications correctly – what if we spent some time focusing on their outlook and teaching them some skills that would boost their positivity? How about that for a productive and meaningful day!
Ward Off Demons.
Another way that a positive outlook impacts your health is that it boosts your immunity.
Researchers have found that people who focused on the positive in a specific aspect of their life, such as how well they were doing at work, exhibited a stronger immune response than those who had a more negative view of the same situation.
Again, I don’t know about you, but if I can just shift my perspective and look for the positive in a situation (and, I mean any situation!) I would be thrilled by the side effects of a boosted immune system.
Long Term Benefits.
By focusing on the positive, we ultimately train our minds to see more positive.
Don’t believe me? Let’s take a look at the flip side as an example.
From the beginning of mankind, we have had to be on the lookout for danger. Those humans who lived in the primitive times of hunting for meals know about this.
You had to constantly be on the lookout for danger. That “saber tooth tiger” we always hear about was always ready to pounce!
Because of this, human beings over time learned that focusing on the negative keeps them safe and out of danger. Well, another thing that this did to us was created a space where focusing on negative had us seeing and experiencing more negative.
So, flip that around and what do you think?
That’s right! Focusing on the positive trains our brain to look for and ultimately see and experience more positive in the future. This leads to longer health benefits over time.
So, how can we as nurses put this into practice? We’re critical thinkers and we need the evidence to back up the information. We also like models that we can apply directly in practice.
Enter appreciative inquiry.
Appreciative inquiry is a framework used in organizational development and strategic teamwork. The profession of nursing can bring this model into nursing practice. Nurses can look at a situation and instead of seeing what is wrong with it, ask what is going right?
Appreciative inquiry actually has a 4-D cycle that you can use to tackle almost any issue: discovery, dream, design and delivery. Nurses can apply this practical strategy at any point during their nursing careers.
Would love to hear your thoughts on the topic and what you would add to this content? Tell us by commenting below, how do you practice being positive and what benefits have you enjoyed?
About the Author: Keynote speaker and podcaster, Elizabeth Scala MSN/MBA, RN, HNB-BC partners with hospitals, nursing schools, and nurse associations to transform the field of nursing from the inside out. As the host of the Your Next Shift podcast, Elizabeth supports nursing organizations in celebrating and recognizing their staff in a meaningful way. Elizabeth received her dual master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University. She is also a certified coach and Reiki Master Teacher. Elizabeth lives in Maryland with her supportive husband and playful pit bull.