Positive thinking can improve your overall well-being. Spending time with loved ones, practicing gratitude, and getting adequate sleep can help you get started.

It’s sometimes easy to fall into a negative thought process; possibly creating a cycle that can negatively affect your well-being.

Adopting positive thoughts may help you approach undesirable situations or news in a more positive manner. You may have preferred different results, but you find the gem that will help you accept it and visualize positive outcomes.

Learning to think positively is a process that takes practice. But, with time, shifting to positive thinking can make a difference and boost your mental and physical health.

There are a multitude of ways to increase positive thoughts. Here are some you can start with to improve your well-being:

1. Identify negative thinking

Throughout your day, consider what you’re thinking and evaluate whether the thoughts are positive or negative.

Try to identify negative thoughts you experience without judgment. It may help to observe your thoughts while practicing mindfulness techniques that can keep you grounded, such as deep breathing or body scanning.

2. Focus on positive self-talk

What you say to yourself can make a difference in your mindset, so consider talking with yourself how you would to a friend or loved one. Replacing negative self-talk with positivity involves being kind, gentle, and encouraging to yourself.

3. Find something to smile or laugh about

Humor can help you find and maintain a positive mindset and decrease stress. Consider spending time with people who make you laugh or watching a funny video that makes you smile.

4. Reframe stressful situations

When you’re in a stressful situation, you can reframe your thoughts and find something positive about the experience. For example, you may use positive affirmations in your daily routine to support your focus on positive self-talk during challenging times.

5. Practice gratitude

Reflecting on what you’re grateful for is one of the best ways to increase positive thinking. Keeping a gratitude journal may help so you can write in it when you’re having negative thoughts.

It’ll help you remember the good in your life, and you can go back and read it when you’re having a hard time.

6. Exercise regularly

Regular exercise can boost your mood and decrease stress, with only 30 minutes daily making a difference. Your daily exercise routine could include a walk through your neighborhood or anything else you enjoy doing that involves movement.

7. Consume a healthy diet

When you eat healthy food, it fuels your mind and body so you can function at an optimal level. Fruits and vegetables are full of necessary vitamins and minerals to boost mental health and help with a positive mindset.

Consider visiting Psych Central’s resource page to find foods that can boost your mental health.

8. Get enough sleep

Sleep is essential to your mental and physical health, and negative thoughts are more likely to creep in if you haven’t gotten enough sleep. Getting enough sleep will boost your mindset and help you focus on positivity.

Research recommends that you get 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night.

9. Learn how to manage stress

Managing stress can promote positive thinking. Consider trying stress-relieving techniques, such as:

  • talking with trusted loved ones
  • disconnecting from social media
  • assessing your thoughts and feelings
  • engaging in exercises you enjoy, like gardening or yoga

Many benefits of positive thinking can help improve your life and outlook on the future and boost your physical health, including:

  • Improved physical and psychological well-being: According to a large study, positive thoughts can boost your overall health and well-being. In addition, positive thoughts can encourage healthy behaviors which may decrease the risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and infection.
  • Illness resistance: Those with a positive mindset are more resistant to illness, including the common cold, and tend to have a stronger immune system. A 2020 study suggests that having more positive thoughts impacts a person’s ability to overcome disease.
  • Improved creative thinking: A 2017 study indicates that replacing negative thinking with positivity can improve creative thinking. Plus, being creative can make you happier, further promoting positive thinking. It creates a cycle of positivity that benefits all areas of your life.
  • Improved coping skills during stressful situations: Adopting a positive mindset can help you better cope with tough situations. According to 2016 research, a positive mindset can decrease symptoms of anxiety and worry.
  • Lower depression rates: Those who think positively are more likely to find meaning in life after experiencing stressful life events. They’re also more likely to exercise regularly, consume nutritious foods, and limit unhealthy behaviors. It can lead to lower depression rates and better overall mental health.
  • Reduced frailty during old age: Positive thinking can help you have less frailty during old age, according to a study of 1,558 adults. It can also boost resilience and life satisfaction in older people.

How negative thoughts affect mental health

According to the Executive Director at Alpas Wellness, Marcus Smith, LCPC, LPC, LCADC, “Persistent negative thoughts can lead to increased stress, depression, anxiety, and physical health problems.”

He further adds that the following aspects of your health may be affected:

  • sleep quality
  • appetite
  • quality of life

In addition, Smith says, “The cycle of negative thinking can be hard to break and can create a self-fulfilling prophecy, where we start to live out the negative outcomes we fear.”

Was this helpful?

Learning to think positively has many benefits, and it’s well worth practicing the habit. If you tend to have negative thoughts, you won’t break the habit right away. It takes time and practice, so give yourself grace as you learn to shift your mindset.

The more you practice thinking positively, the better you’ll get at limiting self-criticism and negativity. You’ll begin experiencing more positivity and self-acceptance while having an easier time managing stress.

If you try the techniques listed above but don’t notice a difference in your thought patterns, consider seeking support.

Visiting a therapist or health professional to talk about your feelings and negative thoughts can make a difference. A professional can help you work through things preventing you from finding positivity and help you learn new coping methods.