Stress Management Effects on Health Benefits of Positive Thinking for Body and Mind By Kendra Cherry Kendra Cherry Facebook Twitter Kendra Cherry, MS, is an author and educational consultant focused on helping students learn about psychology. Learn about our editorial process Updated on June 01, 2020 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by David Susman, PhD Medically reviewed by David Susman, PhD David Susman, PhD is a licensed clinical psychologist with experience providing treatment to individuals with mental illness and substance use concerns. Learn about our Medical Review Board Print Hero Images / Getty Images You have probably had someone tell you to "look on the bright side" or to "see the cup as half full." Chances are good that the people who make these comments are positive thinkers. Researchers are finding more and more evidence pointing to the many benefits of optimism and positive thinking. Such findings suggest that not only are positive thinkers healthier and less stressed, they also have greater overall well-being. According to positive psychology researcher Suzanne Segerstrom, "Setbacks are inherent to almost every worthwhile human activity, and a number of studies show that optimists are in general both psychologically and physiologically healthier." Press Play for Advice On Thinking More Positively Hosted by Editor-in-Chief and therapist Amy Morin, LCSW, this episode of The Verywell Mind Podcast shares how to find the positive things in life. Click below to listen now. Follow Now: Apple Podcasts / Spotify / Google Podcasts Benefits of Positive Thinking Even if positive thinking doesn't come naturally to you, there are plenty of great reasons to start cultivating affirmative thoughts and minimizing negative self-talk. Stress Relief When faced with stressful situations, positive thinkers cope more effectively than pessimists. Rather than dwelling on their frustrations or things that they cannot change, they will devise a plan of action and ask others for assistance and advice. Pessimists, on the other hand, are more likely to simply assume that the situation is out of their control and there is nothing they can do to change it. Increased Immunity In recent years, researchers have found that your mind can have a powerful effect on your body. Immunity is one area where your thoughts and attitudes can have a particularly powerful influence. In one study, researchers found that activation in brain areas associated with negative emotions led to a weaker immune response to a flu vaccine. Researchers Segerstrom and Sephton found that people who were optimistic about a specific and important part of their lives, such as how well they were doing in school, exhibited a stronger immune response than those who had a more negative view of the situation. Improved Wellness Not only can positive thinking impact your ability to cope with stress and your immunity, but it also has an impact on your overall well-being, including a reduced risk of death from cardiovascular problems, less depression, and an increased lifespan. While researchers are not entirely clear on why positive thinking benefits health, some suggest that positive people might lead healthier lifestyles. By coping better with stress and avoiding unhealthy behaviors, they are able to improve their health and well-being. Better Resilience Resilience refers to our ability to cope with problems. Resilient people are able to face a crisis or trauma with strength and resolve. Rather than falling apart in the face of such stress, they have the ability to carry on and eventually overcome such adversity. It may come as no surprise to learn that positive thinking can play a major role in resilience. When dealing with a challenge, optimists typically look at what they can do to fix the problem. Instead of giving up hope, they marshal their resources and are willing to ask others for help. Researchers have also found that in the wake of a crisis, such as a terrorist attack or natural disaster, positive thoughts and emotions encourage thriving and provide a sort of buffer against depression among resilient people. Fortunately, experts also believe that such positivism and resilience can be cultivated. By nurturing positive emotions, even in the face of terrible events, people can reap both short-term and long-term rewards, including managing stress levels, lessening depression, and building coping skills that will serve them well in the future. 10 Tips to Improve Your Resilience A Word From Verywell Before you put on those rose-colored glasses, it is important to note that positive thinking is not about taking a "Pollyanna" approach to life. In fact, researchers have found that in some instances, optimism might not serve you well. For example, people who are excessively optimistic might overestimate their own abilities and take on more than they can handle, ultimately leading to more stress and anxiety. Instead of ignoring reality in favor of the silver lining, psychologists suggest that positive thinking centers on such things as a belief in your abilities, a positive approach to challenges, and trying to make the most of the bad situations. Bad things will happen. Sometimes you will be disappointed or hurt by the actions of others. This does not mean that the world is out to get you or that all people will let you down. Instead, positive thinkers will look at the situation realistically, search for ways that they can improve the situation, and try to learn from their experiences. 5 Sources Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Segerstrom SC. Optimism and immunity: Do positive thoughts always lead to positive effects?. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity. 2005;19(3):195-200. doi:10.1016/j.bbi.2004.08.003 Segerstrom SC, Sephton SE. Optimistic expectancies and cell-mediated immunity: The role of positive affect. Psychol Sci. 2010;21(3):448-455. doi:10.1177/0956797610362061 Buigues C, Queralt A, De Velasco JA, et al. Psycho-social factors in patients with cardiovascular disease attending a family-centred prevention and rehabilitation programme: Euroaction model in Spain. Life. 2021;11(2):89. doi:10.3390/life11020089 Fredrickson BL, Tugade MM, Waugh CE, Larkin GR. What good are positive emotions in crises? A prospective study of resilience and emotions following the terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11th, 2001. J Pers Soc Psychol. 2003;84(2):365-76. Conversano C, Rotondo A, Lensi E, Della vista O, Arpone F, Reda MA. Optimism and its impact on mental and physical well-being. Clin Pract Epidemiol Ment Health. 2010;6:25-9. doi:10.2174/1745017901006010025 Additional Reading Schwartz T. Psychologist and Scientist Suzanne Segerstrom ’90 Studies Optimism and the Immune System. The Chronicle. 2003. By Kendra Cherry Kendra Cherry, MS, is an author and educational consultant focused on helping students learn about psychology. 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