Cultivate Positivity with a Chronic Condition

In last week’s blog, I talked about the benefits of optimism to your health. This week we take the idea a step further. What do you need to develop a positive mindset? And how do you cultivate positivity with a chronic condition?

black father talking to son in fir trees field; represents cultivating positivity when living with a chronic condition. Positivity improves mental and social health.
Photo by Any Lane on Pexels.com

Does Pessimism Hurt Your Health?

First, is there harm to NOT having a positive mindset or being a pessimist? In this article from Healthline, Santos-Longhurst discusses pessimism and its negative health consequences. She states that:

Stress and other negative emotions trigger several processes in our bodies, including stress hormone release, metabolism, and immune function. Long periods of stress increase inflammation in your body, which has also been implicated in a number or serious diseases.

In addition, persistent stress or negative thoughts and feelings are associated with a higher risk for certain health conditions. Examples include heart disease , heart attack, stroke, or dementia.

From Pessimism to Optimism

So, if you are feeling very stressed or consider yourself a natural pessimist, is there hope? Can you cultivate a positive mindset to help you manage stress? Or improve your mental, social, and spiritual health as you manage a chronic condition?

In this article, Shannon McLain discusses 3 components to create a positive mindset. These include mindfulness, optimism, and gratitude.

Mindfulness is the ability to not worry or think about the past or future. But instead, to be totally attentive to the present moment.

Optimism, as I wrote last week, is the ability to acknowledge a negative situation. Then address it head-on, with hope for a positive outcome.

Finally, gratitude helps create a positive mindset. Robert Emmons defines gratitude in this way:

“We affirm that there are good thing in the world, gifts and benefits we’ve received. This doesn’t mean that life is perfect; it doesn’t ignore complaints, burdens, and hassles. But when we look at life as a whole, gratitude encourages us to identify some amount of goodness in our life…I think true gratitude involves a humble dependence on others: We acknowledge that other people—or even higher powers, if you’re of a spiritual mindset—gave us many gifts, big and small, to help us achieve the goodness in our lives.”

Robert Emmons

Growing in Gratitude

Several years ago, I read the book, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are, by Anne Voskamp. The book taught me how to combine mindfulness and gratitude. As the Amazon description puts it, Anne “invites you to discover a way of seeing that opens your eyes to ordinary amazing grace, a way of living that is fully alive, and a way of becoming present to God that brings you deep and lasting joy.

The book is a challenge to create a gratitude journal of one thousand things you are grateful for. To purposefully search for unique and different gifts each day. This book taught me not only how to focus on the present, but how to intentionally seek the small gifts in each day. It took me months to list a thousand things, but it ingrained a habit of gratitude.

Besides journaling, there are many ways to grow in gratitude. This 2019 article from Harvard Health Publishing, gives many examples of how to cultivate gratitude.

Conclusion

So, mindfulness, optimism and gratitude can each help to create a positive mindset. A positive mindset can help manage the stress and difficulties you may experience while managing a chronic condition. Or the caregiver stress you may feel caring for a loved one. Finally, a positive mindset can improve your mental, social, and spiritual health. All help you to live as well as possible, even in difficult circumstances.

If you are struggling to cultivate positivity with a chronic condition, join my weekly newsletter to have these blogs delivered right to your mailbox. Or contact me to set up a time to talk.

Disclaimer: This blog is a resource through which you may obtain information regarding your health and wellness.  Information is intended for the general reader and is not a substitute for medical advice.  The content in this blog is intended to be informational only and not interpreted as specific advice for you.  There may be delays, omissions, or inaccuracies in information contained in this blog. You should always consult with a licensed healthcare professional who is familiar with your health and past medical history before making any changes you may read about in this blog.

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