Reconnect with Your Inner Optimist
Together SparkPeople and meQuilibrium are committed to making you healthier and happier, one step at a time. At the end of this post, you'll learn how to get a FREE 6-week unlimited access to meQuilibrium, including a special 30-day introductory stress-relief program, as a gift exclusively for SparkPeople members! Don't miss this limited-time offer!
Stress can derail our best intentions to adopt and maintain healthy habits. It’s easy to make poor decisions when stress levels rise. In fact, according to the American Psychological Association, highly stressed people are 30% less likely to eat a healthier diet and 25% less likely to exercise. People try to alleviate stress in unhealthy ways like overeating and sedentary activities like watching TV.
Just like managing your weight, managing your stress is about becoming aware of your choices—and making better ones. meQuilibriumcan help you dial down the effects of stress by coaching you to better manage your thoughts and emotions. Our philosophy is this: You can’t annihilate stress itself, or completely change your circumstances. But you can change your response to stress. The concepts you’ll learn, paired with a little practice, will help you do just that. And when you start to shift your stress response, you’ll find that can do lots of things you never thought you could.
In Search of Your Inner OptimistOptimists sometimes get a bad rap. If you tend to be a sunny-sider, chances are you’ve been criticized for being unrealistic, impractical, a dreamer, maybe even dumb. There’s this tough-guy—and we think, defensive—response to life and its unpredictability, and that response is: Life sucks and then it’s over.
We’ve gotten the (wrong) idea that cynicism and realism go hand-in-hand, and that there’s just no room for optimism, unless we want to embarrass ourselves. Well, we disagree.
The Benefits of Positive ThinkingThe Mayo Clinic reports that some of the benefits of positive thinking include:
- Increased life span
- Lower rates of depression
- Greater resistance to the common cold
- Better psychological and physical wellbeing
- Reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease
What a Real Optimist IsTrue optimists don’t walk around in the rain and deny that they’re getting wet. But where the pessimist sees anything from a tough exchange at work or bad traffic as yet another reason why life disappoints, the optimist sees it as an opportunity. She says, “Hmm. I wonder what can be made of, gained from, or learned from this.”
TRY IT: Think differently. When something not so great happens, and you feel your knee-jerk negativity kick in, pause and ask yourself what’s funny, curious, or interesting about the situation you’re in instead.
You Don’t Have to Be Born OneYou don’t need a dyed-in-the-wool optimist. You can build your positive thinking ability like a muscle. Of course, you also have to use it.
The Mayo Clinic offers these tips for boosting positive thought:
- Identify areas to change. If you want to become more optimistic and engage in more positive thinking, first identify areas of your life that you typically think negatively about, whether it’s work, your daily commute or a relationship. Start small by focusing on one area to approach in a more positive way.
- Be open to humor. Give yourself permission to smile or laugh, especially during difficult times. When you can laugh at life, you feel less stressed.
- Follow a healthy lifestyle. Exercise at least three times a week to positively affect mood and reduce stress. Follow a healthy diet to fuel your mind and body. And learn to manage stress.
- Surround yourself with positive people. Make sure those in your life are positive, supportive people you can depend on to give helpful advice and feedback. Negative people may increase your stress levels.
Are you an optimist? Do you want to become one?
"Optimist" is actually one of the 5 stress personality types in the meQuilibrium program. Research has shown that there are five ways people respond successfully to stress. Each type has unique strengths and weaknesses—knowing your stress personality can help you appreciate the things you do well and point you toward the skills you need to cultivate. Take advantage of this free gift for SparkPeople members (45 days of access to meQuilbrium.com, including its monthlong stress-relief program) to learn more about yourself.
meQuilibrium is the perfect companion in your efforts to stick to your intentions for a healthy new year! Are you ready to learn how you can understand and manage your stress with meQuilibrium's interactive coaching system, meQ? Click here for details and your FREE 6-week trial offer, a special gift exclusively for SparkPeople members! Take advantage of this limited-time offer now. The meQuilibrium 30-day program to decrease stress is the perfect tool to help you stay calm and in balance during the holiday season.
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