Dear Negative Nancy,
Updated: Jan 4
Ever catch yourself thinking something not so favorable, only to catch yourself about to drop something? (See what I did there?) Like questioning your one friend's parenting style, or wishing a coworker get fired... and then, bam: you drop your keys, or worse yet, your coffee! So you think "instant karma". Maybe so, or maybe you've disrupted your brain function and therefore cannot perform tasks as best you could if you were thinking positive thoughts.
Negative thoughts - about yourself or others - can indeed have an immediate negative impact on both your cognitive and physical functioning. Your brain is actually drawing precious metabolic energy away from the prefrontal cortex (the part of the brain that helps you perform tasks, like holding your keys and coffee) when you are thinking negative thoughts. (Psychology Today, 2018)
Moreover, constant negative thinking can have significant impact on your body's hormone balance, deplete serotonin and dopamine (the brain chemicals required for happiness), and damage the immune system, making you more susceptible weight gain, anxiety/depression and infections, respectively. (Hopkins Medicine, 2020)
Thankfully, you don't have to become a yogi (but more power to you if you do!) to curtail negative thinking and thought-patterns. There are a wide variety of mind-body exercises to promote a more positive mindset in acute settings and long term. Here are a few tried and true:
Affirmations are positive reminders or statements to encourage and motivate. Check these out:
Art therapy is the freedom of expression through a myriad of art forms. It's NOT just for kids! Here are 20 are therapy activities:
CBT or cognitive-behavioral therapy: helps you become aware of inaccurate or negative thinking, so you can view challenging situations more clearly and respond favorably.
Nearly all health insurance plans (regardless of type) cover mental health services like
individual therapy. Check your health plan's provider directory to locate a licensed
psychologist or clinical therapist.
Meditation: there are many types of meditation. Healthline has a great overview:
Physical activity: When you exercise, your body releases endorphins, which lead to feelings of positivity. I'm a huge proponent of walking (double bonus if you can safely walk outside) as it's something that can be done conveniently and consistently, and therefore sustainable.
Prayer can be done aloud or silently. Here's a list of 25 short and sweet ones:
What's worked for you? Let me know. And please let me know what I may have missed!
In good health,