Learning About Positive Thinking

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What is positive thinking?

Positive thinking, or healthy thinking, is a way to help you stay well or cope with a health problem by changing how you think. It's based on research that shows that you can change how you think. And how you think affects how you feel.

Cognitive-behavioural therapy, also called CBT, is a therapy that is often used to help people think in a healthy way. It focuses on thought (cognitive) and action (behavioural).

How can positive thinking help you?

If you think in a positive way, you may be more able to care for yourself and handle life's challenges. You will feel better. And you may be more able to avoid or cope with stress, anxiety, and depression. CBT may be able to help you sleep better and lose weight.

How can you get started with positive thinking?

CBT involves techniques that you can practice every day so that healthy thinking comes naturally.

Here are the steps for one technique.

  1. Stop. When you notice a negative thought, stop it in its tracks and write it down.
  2. Ask. Look at that thought and ask yourself whether it is helpful or unhelpful right now.
  3. Choose. Choose a new, helpful thought to replace a negative one.

Here's an example of how this might work:

  • In a job review, your boss praised several things about your work. But you're feeling down because she had one small criticism. You might even think, "I'm no good at my job" or "She doesn't like me. I must be bad." These are negative thoughts. You want to stop them.
  • Ask yourself questions about the situation and your negative thoughts. You might ask, "What did my boss say exactly?" "Were there positive comments?" "Why do I focus only on one criticism?" Your answers can help you find more accurate and helpful statements.
  • Now choose a helpful thought to replace the negative thoughts. For example, you might think, "I've done a lot of good work this year, and my boss noticed it. She thought there was one area I can improve. So I'll think of some things I can do to get stronger in that area."

With time and practice, you can learn to see that the harsh things you say to yourself may keep you from enjoying your life and work. You can replace them with more helpful thoughts.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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