Here’s the REAL Reason to Think Positive Thoughts

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Trending News: Link drawn between self-compassion and wellness

At some point in your life, you’ve probably been encouraged to think positive thoughts and trust that good things will ultimately follow. Sound familiar?

Well, it turns out there may be something to the advice you were given. That’s because a recent study published in the journal Clinical Psychological Science revealed that engaging in self-compassion can hold important mind and body benefits.

In this line of research, 135 Exeter students were divided into five groups. Participants in each group were given a unique set of audio instructions.

While listening to the audio files, scientists monitored their sweat response and heart rate. The research team also asked participants how they were feeling.

Related: How to build a mental circle of confidence

The two groups that were given instructions to be kind to themselves (positive thinking) were found to have more relaxed body-states and lower heart rates. They also had lower sweat responses. When combined, the trio of characteristics suggests positive, happier feelings of well-being.

Conversely, the groups that listened to audio messages that encouraged negative thinking had stressed body-states, higher heart rates, and higher sweat responses. Taken together, these traits equate to mental and physical distress – plus unhappiness.

You may be wondering what self-compassion means. To get to the answer, Guy Counseling spoke to Arlene Englander, a licensed mental health therapist in Chicago. She offered the following: “Self-compassion is a $10.00 term used to describe the dynamic where an individual turns love, forgiveness, understanding, and kindness inward,” she said.

Englander provided the following example. “Let’s say you recognize you may not have the perfect body. Instead of beating yourself up, you remind yourself that other people have imperfect physiques and that’s OK,” Englander adds.

Dr. Hans Kirschner, a study investigator with Exeter, shared the following about the research. “These findings suggest that being kind to oneself switches off the threat response and puts the body in a state of safety and relaxation that is important for regeneration and healing,” Kirschner said.

“Previous research has found that self-compassion was related to higher levels of well-being and better mental health, but we didn’t know why,” stated researcher Dr. Anke Karl in a press release.

“Our study is helping us understand the mechanism of how being kind to yourself when things go wrong could be beneficial in psychological treatments. By switching off our threat response, we boost our immune systems and give ourselves the best chance of healing.”

How much self-compassion do you engage in? Do you believe your thoughts have an impact on your body and mind?

About MJ Duff 40 Articles
Marie-Jones Duff is a Los Angeles based freelance multimedia journalist and frequent traveler with a fondness for all things bizarre and nerdy. Look for posts that focus on everything from men's fashion to science.

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