Positive thinking improves physical & emotional health. Learn how to rewire your brain by replacing negative thoughts with positive thoughts to improve your health.
Have you ever wondered why negative thoughts are often overwhelming and at the fore front of your mind? The reason may surprise you. Humans are naturally wired that way. It is a defensive mechanism that mankind has used since we were hunters and gatherers, always scanning for threats. Although we are naturally wired this way, we have learned over the past 30 years that the brain has the ability to change in both structure and functional organization. This dynamic process is called neuroplasticity. An example of neuroplasticity at work can be seen in a person who has suffered a stroke and has lost partial or complete motor function and/or cognitive function. Because we have the ability to rewire (retrain) our brain with cognitive and physical rehabilitation, we are able to regain function(s) once lost.
Definition: Neuroplasticity – neurons and neural networks in the brain change their connections and behavior in response to new information, sensory stimulation, development, damage, or dysfunction. Although neural networks also exhibit modularity and carry out specific functions, they retain the capacity to deviate from their usual functions and to reorganize themselves.(1)
In this article you will learn how positive thinking improves health and how to start rewiring your brain by replacing negative thoughts with positive thoughts.
How can positive thinking improve my health?
Scientists have discovered a biochemical connection between the brain and the body. According to the National Institute of Health at Georgetown University, emotions play a huge part in helping us maintain healthy bodies. Psychological and chemical processes that control the neural, hormonal and immune systems all use the very same neuropeptides in order to communicate. Since the brain and the body use the same chemicals, it makes sense that these elements would affect the mind as well as the body. It’s all tied together. Scientists used to refer to it as psychosomatic illness, but didn’t understand how the mind could make the body ill. (2)
Creating optimism reduces stress-induced inflammation and levels of stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. It also reduces susceptibility to disease by decreasing the sympathetic nervous system activity (fight or flight) and stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest). (3)
Fact: Adrenaline increases your heart rate, elevates your blood pressure and boosts energy supplies. Cortisol, the primary stress hormone, increases sugars (glucose) in the bloodstream, enhances your brain’s use of glucose and increases the availability of substances that repair tissues. Cortisol also curbs functions that would be nonessential or detrimental in a fight-or-flight situation. It alters immune system responses and suppresses the digestive system, the reproductive system and growth processes. This complex, natural alarm system also communicates with regions of your brain that control mood, motivation and fear. (4)
How do I rewire my brain to replace negative thoughts with positive thoughts?
Practice steps 1-5. Retraining your thoughts and rewiring your brain will require practice. Love yourself and respect the journey.
1) Be Aware. Be aware of your negative thoughts and what triggers those negative thoughts. Allow yourself time to peel back the layers of the negative influences in your life. Identify changes that need to be made. Have self-compassion and allow yourself to change. Be aware of how practicing positive thinking benefits the mind and the body. Knowing these benefits can help motivate you to practice on a daily basis.
2) Take responsibility of your actions. The average person has about 70,000 thoughts per day. You can control your thoughts and your actions. If you have given others control, start taking it back one person at a time. It will become easier as you begin to set boundaries and gain confidence.
3) Make a plan. Make a plan to make time for yourself. Start by giving yourself 5 minutes every day; recite a daily mantra or daily devotion or affirmation (examples below). Soon you will find that you have more time for yourself than once thought. Personal time is yours, you deserve it.
4) Practice. Practice. Practice.
Start your day by reciting a mantra or daily devotion or affirmation, doing this will activate chemical processes that rewire the brain as well as set a positive tone.
Examples of affirmations:
- I am attracting powerfully positive and healthy people into my life.
- I am deserving of all the good things in my life.
- I let go of the past so I can create health now.
- I am thankful for what I have, even if it’s not perfect.
- I give myself permission to rest and heal without guilt.
- I will no longer give my power away to those who try to control and manipulate me. I own my own power and take responsibility for the choices and decisions I make every day.
- I deserve happiness. I choose to be happy.
Create your own affirmation: Affirmations are positive statements of a desired outcome or goal. They are usually short, believable and focused. By repeating them over and over again, you change neural pathways and synapses in your brain and open up a new state of thoughts.
Practice replacing negative self-talk with positive self-talk:
|I’ve never done it before.||It’s an opportunity to learn something new.|
|It’s too complicated.||I’ll tackle it from a different angle.|
|I don’t have the resources.||Necessity is the mother of invention.|
|I’m too lazy to get this done.||I wasn’t able to fit it into my schedule but can re-examine some priorities.|
|There’s no way it will work.||I can try to make it work.|
|It’s too radical a change.||Let’s take a chance.|
|No one bothers to communicate with me.||I’ll see if I can open the channels of communication.|
|I’m not going to get any better at this.||I’ll give it another try.|
5) Enjoy. The more you practice positive self-talk exercises the easier it will be as your brain begins to rewire its self. Better Health. Better Life.
-Written by Sean Shoemaker RN, LMT at Natural Medicine and Rehabilition. Better Health. Better Life.
Natural Medicine and Rehabilitation provides healthcare that incorporates key aspects of traditional and complimentary medicine that are fundamental to true long-term health. The primary focus of healthcare at NMR is on clinical nutrition, stress tempering techniques and education as well as physical rehabilitation and reconditioning. These core services are the pillars of the “Triad of Health” which include your Nutritional habits, Mental outlook and Reconditioning exercises. It is the consistent choices that we make in these areas that will have the most significant impact on our health. The Triad of Health looks at a patients overall health picture to help them achieve Better Health. Better Life.
Call 908.252.0242 to make an appointment for a complimentary consultatoin with Dr. Sferra to learn how our holistic approach can help you achieve better health.
Visit our Education Page for a description of Dr. Sferra’s Stress Management Lecture and other corporate wellness programs http://www.nmrnj.com/educational-programs/lectures-screenings#motivation-topics
(1) Rugnetta, Michaeal (2008) Neuroplasticity. Britannica.com. Retrieved June 6, 2013, from http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/410552/neuroplasticity
(2) Psi tek. Revolutionary Positive Thinking. Psiteck.com Retrieved June 6, 2013, from http://www.psitek.net/pages/PsiTek-revolutionary-positive-thinking-5.html
(3) Merchant, Jo (2008, Aug 29)Heal thyself: Think Positive. NewScientist.com. Retrieved June 6, 2103, from http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21128271.700-heal-thyself-think-positive.html
(4) Mayo Clinic Staff. Stress Management. Mayoclinic.com. Retrieved June 6, 2013, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/stress/SR00001