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Monday, July 11, 2011

How do you start a healthy eating plan?

It's important not to jump in too far too fast. Slow, steady steps will set you up for success. In this section you'll learn about the steps to follow in setting up a healthy eating plan:
  • Set your goals.
  • Track your progress.
  • Think about your barriers.
  • Get support-from others and from yourself.
Set your goals
When you are clear about your reasons for starting a healthy eating plan, it’s time to set your goals.
What is your long-term goal? A long-term goal is something you want to reach in 6 to 12 months. For example, your long-term goal may be to:
  • Lower your blood pressure and/or cholesterol.
  • Reach a healthy weight for your body type.
What are the short-term goals that will help you get there? Short-term goals are things that you want to do tomorrow and the day after. For example, you might decide to:
  • Switch to low-fat or fat-free milk or soy milk instead of whole milk on your cereal to reduce the amount of fat you take in.
  • Cut back on eating fast food to once a week, or eat red meat only 3 times a week.
Read more about setting goals.
Here are some quick tips about healthy eating goals:
  • Instead of changing your diet overnight, make your changes one at a time.
  • Try adding something to your diet instead of taking something away. Add foods that you think you need more of, like fruits and vegetables. If you start off by taking things out of your diet-like foods that are high in fat or sugar-you might feel deprived. And that will make it harder for you to change.
  • Choose more of the healthy foods that you enjoy. Make a list of the foods you like, and see how you can change them to make them healthier. For example, make pizza at home using low-fat mozzarella cheese and lots of fresh vegetables. Is there a special raw vegetable that you like? Stock up on it-and reach for it whenever you want a snack.
  • Write down your goals, and hang them up where you can see them. Reading your goals can be a helpful reminder.
  • Don't set goals that involve losing weight fast. Rapid weight loss is not healthy and is hard to keep doing.
Track your progress
Keeping track of your progress helps you see how far you've come. It also helps you stay with your plan.
  • Use a notebook, journal, or food record form to keep track of the healthy things you do. Look this over when you begin to doubt yourself or feel discouraged.
  • Pay attention to how you feel. Can you notice any difference when you are eating better? Or do you notice any difference when you sometimes eat poorly?
  • Notice whether your food preferences change. As we change what we eat, we learn to like new foods. You may find that you don't like some of the foods you used to eat before you started making changes in your diet. And you may have learned to like new foods that you thought you didn't like.
  • Look over any lab tests you might have if you are following a special diet. You may notice improvements.
    • Blood sugar tests will tell you whether your diet is helping to control your diabetes.
    • Periodic blood tests can measure your cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
    • You can measure your blood pressure to see whether dietary changes are improving it.
      High Blood Pressure: Checking Your Blood Pressure at Home



  • Every time you meet a goal, reward yourself.



Think about your barriers
Take the time to think about what things could get in the way of your success. We call these things barriers. And by thinking about them now, you can plan ahead for how to deal with them if they happen.
Here are some tips for dealing with barriers:
  • It’s perfectly normal to try something, stop it, and then get mad at yourself. Lots of people have to try and try again before they reach their goals.
  • If you feel like giving up, don't waste energy feeling bad about yourself. Remember your reason for wanting to change, think about the progress you've made, and give yourself a pep talk and a pat on the back. Then you may feel like eating healthy again.
  • When you hit a barrier-and most people do-get support. Talk to your family members and friends to see if someone wants to eat healthy with you or cheer you on.
  • Don't forget little rewards. Something to look forward to can keep you moving right along.
Expect to encounter some barriers. And remember: The idea is not to get rid of barriers but to identify them ahead of time and plan what you will do to deal with them.
It might help you to have a written personal action plan where you list your goals, your barriers, and your plans to get past those barriers.
Get support-from others and from yourself
The more support you have, the easier it will be to change your eating habits.
If your family members tell you that they love how you're getting healthier, you'll probably be motivated to keep up the good work.
And there’s more support out there. You can even ask for encouragement. Here are a few things to look for:
  • Change your eating habits with a partner. It’s motivating to know that someone is sharing the same goals. That person can remind you how far you've come. And that person can even motivate you with what he or she has accomplished.
  • Friends and family may be a great resource. Family members can eat healthy meals with you. They can encourage you by saying how they admire you for making hard changes. Friends may tell you how good you look because your eating habits have changed. Don't be afraid to tell family and friends that their encouragement makes a big difference to you.
  • You might join a class or support group. People in these groups often have some of the same barriers you have. They can give you support when you don't feel like staying with your eating plan. They can boost your morale when you need a lift.
  • Don't forget to reward yourself. When you reach one of your goals-for example, eating five servings of fruits and vegetables a day for 1 week-give yourself a present. Buy a new healthy cookbook. Take a cooking class. Or just take some time for yourself. Do whatever it takes to remind yourself that you've been meeting your goals. You're successful!
Support is everywhere. You just have to look for it.

Why do you want to start eating healthier foods?

Your reason for wanting this is really important. Don't do it because someone else wants you to. What makes you want to start eating healthier foods?
  • You have a specific health concern (your heart, high blood pressure or high cholesterol, diabetes, depression, your bones and muscles, or something else).
  • You want to feel better and have more energy.
  • You want to lose weight.
  • You have another reason for wanting to do this.
Write down your reasons for wanting to make this change. Put the list where you can see it easily. It will be a daily reminder of why you want to make a change.
It’s not easy to make changes. But taking the time now to really think about what will motivate or inspire you will help you stay with it.

What is involved in starting a healthy eating plan?

Eating one healthy meal isn't hard. It may not even be hard to eat three healthy meals in a single day. The hard part is making changes in your daily life so that you start eating healthy every day-and keep eating healthy every day.
It's all about changing your habits. And changing your habits is easier if you make a plan first.
Starting a life of healthy eating-or making any kind of change in the way you live your daily life-is like being on a path. The path leads to success. There are three steps that can help you get started:
  1. Have your own reasons for wanting to change.
  2. Set goals.
  3. Think about what might get in your way, and prepare for slip-ups.

Healthy Eating: Starting a Plan for Change

If you have decided to start a healthy eating plan, congratulations! Making that decision is an important step in becoming a healthier person.
Keep these key points in mind:
  • When you're trying to develop new habits-whether it's healthy eating, getting more exercise, or quitting smoking-you have a better chance of success if you make a plan ahead of time.
  • Knowing why you want to eat healthier can help you make changes in your eating habits. And writing down your reasons will be a good reminder later on if you get discouraged.
  • A plan for forming new habits includes long-term and short-term goals as well as ideas for getting past barriers-things that might get in the way of your success.
  • Start with small, short-term goals that you can reach pretty easily. It's easier to stay with something new when you have early, frequent successes.
  • Support from family and friends can go a long way toward helping you find success in eating healthier. Don't be afraid to let them know what you're trying to do-and ask for their help.

How can you use positive thinking to cope with anxiety?

Stop your thoughts

The first step is to stop your negative thoughts or "self-talk." Self-talk is what you think and believe about yourself and your experiences. It's like a running commentary in your head. Your self-talk may be positive and helpful. Or it may be negative and not helpful.

Ask about your thoughts

The next step is to ask yourself whether your thoughts are helpful or unhelpful. Look at what you're saying to yourself. Does the evidence support your negative thought? Some of your self-talk may be true. Or it may be partly true, but exaggerated.
One of the best ways to see if you are worrying too much is to look at the odds. What are the odds, or chances, that the bad thing you are worried about will happen? If you have a job review that has one small criticism among many compliments, what are the odds that you really are in danger of losing your job? The odds are probably low.
There are several kinds of irrational thoughts. Here are a few types to look for:
  • Focusing on the negative: This is sometimes called filtering. You filter out the good and focus only on the bad. Example: "I get so nervous speaking in public. I just know that people are thinking about how bad I am at speaking." Reality: Probably no one is more focused on your performance than you. It may help to look for some evidence that good things happened after one of your presentations. Did people applaud afterward? Did anyone tell you that you did a good job?
  • Should: People sometimes have set ideas about how they "should" act. If you hear yourself saying that you or other people "should," "ought to," or "have to" do something, then you might be setting yourself up to feel bad. Example: "I have to be in control all the time or I can't cope with things." Reality: There's nothing wrong with wanting to have some control over the things that you can control. But you may cause yourself anxiety by worrying about things that you can't control.
  • Overgeneralizing: This is taking one example and saying it's true for everything. Look for words such as "never" and "always." Example: "I'll never feel normal. I worry about everything all the time." Reality: You may worry about many things. But everything? Is it possible you are exaggerating? Although you may worry about many things, you also may find that you feel strong and calm about other things.
  • All-or-nothing thinking: This is also called black-or-white thinking. Example: "If I don't get a perfect job review, then I'll lose my job." Reality: Most performance reviews include some constructive criticism-something you can work on to improve. If you get five positive comments and one constructive suggestion, that is a good review. It doesn't mean that you're in danger of losing your job.
  • Catastrophic thinking: This is assuming that the worst will happen. This type of irrational thinking often includes "what if" questions. Example: "I've been having headaches lately. I'm so worried. What if it's a brain tumor?" Reality: If you have lots of headaches, you should see a doctor. But the odds are that it's something more common and far less serious. You might need glasses. You could have a sinus infection. Maybe you're getting tension headaches from stress.

Choose your thoughts

The next step is to choose a positive, helpful thought to replace the unhelpful one.
Keeping a journal of your thoughts is one of the best ways to practice stopping, asking, and choosing your thoughts. It makes you aware of your self-talk. Write down any negative or unhelpful thoughts you had during the day. If you think you might not remember them at the end of your day, keep a notepad with you so that you can write down any thoughts as they happen. Then write down helpful messages to correct the negative thoughts.
If you do this every day, positive or helpful thoughts will soon come naturally to you.
But there may be some truth in some of your negative thoughts. You may have some things you want to work on. If you didn't perform as well as you would like on something, write that down. You can work on a plan to correct or improve that area.
If you want, you also could write down what kind of irrational thought you had. Journal entries might look something like this:
Thought diary
Stop your negative thought
Ask what type of negative thought you had
Choose a positive, helpful thought
"I get so nervous speaking in public. I just know that people are thinking about how bad I am at speaking."
Focusing on the negative
"I'm probably better at public speaking than I think I am. The last time I gave a talk, people applauded afterward."
"I have to be in control all the time or I can't cope with things."
Should "I can only control how I think about things or what I do. I can't control some things, like how other people feel and act."
"I'll never feel normal. I worry about everything all the time." Overgeneralizing "I've laughed and relaxed before. I can practice letting go of my worries."
"My headaches must mean there is something seriously wrong with me."
Catastrophic thinking
"A lot of things can cause headaches. Most of them are minor and go away."

Why is positive thinking important to help you cope with anxiety?

Changing your thinking can help you prevent or cope with anxiety.1 It can help you stop the worry by replacing negative thoughts with helpful ones. It's also helpful in controlling panic attacks.
Positive thoughts can help stop the "fight or flight" feelings that you have with anxiety. In a fight-or-flight response, your body senses danger and the need to fight or run away. Your body releases hormones like adrenaline, which makes your heart beat fast and your blood pressure rise. Positive thoughts can calm you and stop this response.
For example, maybe you are about to have a job review. It's normal to be a little nervous. But you have trouble sleeping and have a fast heartbeat and sweaty hands. You think constantly about the review. You've been telling yourself that your boss is going to say bad things about your performance-even though you haven't been getting bad comments from her.
Or perhaps you have a doctor's appointment coming up. And you're worried that he may find something wrong.
If you have anxiety, you may worry a lot about many things. You are sure that something bad is going to happen, even though you have no proof that something bad will happen.
The more you talk in a negative way to yourself, the harder it is to keep a positive outlook. The negative thinking makes you feel bad. And that can make you feel more anxious, which leads to more bad thoughts about yourself. It's a cycle that's hard to break.
But with practice, you can retrain your brain. After all, you weren't born telling yourself negative things. You learned how to do it. So there’s no reason you can't teach your brain to unlearn it and replace negative thinking with more helpful thoughts.
Positive thinking also is good for your health in other ways. If you feel bad about yourself, you could get depressed. Positive thinking also can help you handle stress better. Too much stress can raise your blood pressure and make your heart work harder, which can increase your risk for a heart attack. Stress also can weaken your immune system, which can make you more open to infection and disease.

What is positive thinking?

Positive thinking, or healthy thinking, is a way to help you stay well 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-behavioral therapy, also called CBT, is a type of therapy that is often used to help people think in a healthy way. CBT can help you learn to replace negative thoughts with positive ones. These negative thoughts are sometimes called irrational or automatic thoughts.
Working on your own or with a counselor, you can practice these three steps:
  • Stop. When you notice a negative thought, stop it in its tracks and write it down.
  • Ask. Look at that thought and ask yourself whether it is helpful or unhelpful right now.
  • Choose. Choose a new, helpful thought to replace a negative one.
The goal is to have positive thoughts come naturally. It may take some time to change the way you think. So you will need to practice positive thinking every day.

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Monday, July 11, 2011

How do you start a healthy eating plan?

It's important not to jump in too far too fast. Slow, steady steps will set you up for success. In this section you'll learn about the steps to follow in setting up a healthy eating plan:
  • Set your goals.
  • Track your progress.
  • Think about your barriers.
  • Get support-from others and from yourself.
Set your goals
When you are clear about your reasons for starting a healthy eating plan, it’s time to set your goals.
What is your long-term goal? A long-term goal is something you want to reach in 6 to 12 months. For example, your long-term goal may be to:
  • Lower your blood pressure and/or cholesterol.
  • Reach a healthy weight for your body type.
What are the short-term goals that will help you get there? Short-term goals are things that you want to do tomorrow and the day after. For example, you might decide to:
  • Switch to low-fat or fat-free milk or soy milk instead of whole milk on your cereal to reduce the amount of fat you take in.
  • Cut back on eating fast food to once a week, or eat red meat only 3 times a week.
Read more about setting goals.
Here are some quick tips about healthy eating goals:
  • Instead of changing your diet overnight, make your changes one at a time.
  • Try adding something to your diet instead of taking something away. Add foods that you think you need more of, like fruits and vegetables. If you start off by taking things out of your diet-like foods that are high in fat or sugar-you might feel deprived. And that will make it harder for you to change.
  • Choose more of the healthy foods that you enjoy. Make a list of the foods you like, and see how you can change them to make them healthier. For example, make pizza at home using low-fat mozzarella cheese and lots of fresh vegetables. Is there a special raw vegetable that you like? Stock up on it-and reach for it whenever you want a snack.
  • Write down your goals, and hang them up where you can see them. Reading your goals can be a helpful reminder.
  • Don't set goals that involve losing weight fast. Rapid weight loss is not healthy and is hard to keep doing.
Track your progress
Keeping track of your progress helps you see how far you've come. It also helps you stay with your plan.
  • Use a notebook, journal, or food record form to keep track of the healthy things you do. Look this over when you begin to doubt yourself or feel discouraged.
  • Pay attention to how you feel. Can you notice any difference when you are eating better? Or do you notice any difference when you sometimes eat poorly?
  • Notice whether your food preferences change. As we change what we eat, we learn to like new foods. You may find that you don't like some of the foods you used to eat before you started making changes in your diet. And you may have learned to like new foods that you thought you didn't like.
  • Look over any lab tests you might have if you are following a special diet. You may notice improvements.
    • Blood sugar tests will tell you whether your diet is helping to control your diabetes.
    • Periodic blood tests can measure your cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
    • You can measure your blood pressure to see whether dietary changes are improving it.
      High Blood Pressure: Checking Your Blood Pressure at Home



  • Every time you meet a goal, reward yourself.



Think about your barriers
Take the time to think about what things could get in the way of your success. We call these things barriers. And by thinking about them now, you can plan ahead for how to deal with them if they happen.
Here are some tips for dealing with barriers:
  • It’s perfectly normal to try something, stop it, and then get mad at yourself. Lots of people have to try and try again before they reach their goals.
  • If you feel like giving up, don't waste energy feeling bad about yourself. Remember your reason for wanting to change, think about the progress you've made, and give yourself a pep talk and a pat on the back. Then you may feel like eating healthy again.
  • When you hit a barrier-and most people do-get support. Talk to your family members and friends to see if someone wants to eat healthy with you or cheer you on.
  • Don't forget little rewards. Something to look forward to can keep you moving right along.
Expect to encounter some barriers. And remember: The idea is not to get rid of barriers but to identify them ahead of time and plan what you will do to deal with them.
It might help you to have a written personal action plan where you list your goals, your barriers, and your plans to get past those barriers.
Get support-from others and from yourself
The more support you have, the easier it will be to change your eating habits.
If your family members tell you that they love how you're getting healthier, you'll probably be motivated to keep up the good work.
And there’s more support out there. You can even ask for encouragement. Here are a few things to look for:
  • Change your eating habits with a partner. It’s motivating to know that someone is sharing the same goals. That person can remind you how far you've come. And that person can even motivate you with what he or she has accomplished.
  • Friends and family may be a great resource. Family members can eat healthy meals with you. They can encourage you by saying how they admire you for making hard changes. Friends may tell you how good you look because your eating habits have changed. Don't be afraid to tell family and friends that their encouragement makes a big difference to you.
  • You might join a class or support group. People in these groups often have some of the same barriers you have. They can give you support when you don't feel like staying with your eating plan. They can boost your morale when you need a lift.
  • Don't forget to reward yourself. When you reach one of your goals-for example, eating five servings of fruits and vegetables a day for 1 week-give yourself a present. Buy a new healthy cookbook. Take a cooking class. Or just take some time for yourself. Do whatever it takes to remind yourself that you've been meeting your goals. You're successful!
Support is everywhere. You just have to look for it.

Why do you want to start eating healthier foods?

Your reason for wanting this is really important. Don't do it because someone else wants you to. What makes you want to start eating healthier foods?
  • You have a specific health concern (your heart, high blood pressure or high cholesterol, diabetes, depression, your bones and muscles, or something else).
  • You want to feel better and have more energy.
  • You want to lose weight.
  • You have another reason for wanting to do this.
Write down your reasons for wanting to make this change. Put the list where you can see it easily. It will be a daily reminder of why you want to make a change.
It’s not easy to make changes. But taking the time now to really think about what will motivate or inspire you will help you stay with it.

What is involved in starting a healthy eating plan?

Eating one healthy meal isn't hard. It may not even be hard to eat three healthy meals in a single day. The hard part is making changes in your daily life so that you start eating healthy every day-and keep eating healthy every day.
It's all about changing your habits. And changing your habits is easier if you make a plan first.
Starting a life of healthy eating-or making any kind of change in the way you live your daily life-is like being on a path. The path leads to success. There are three steps that can help you get started:
  1. Have your own reasons for wanting to change.
  2. Set goals.
  3. Think about what might get in your way, and prepare for slip-ups.

Healthy Eating: Starting a Plan for Change

If you have decided to start a healthy eating plan, congratulations! Making that decision is an important step in becoming a healthier person.
Keep these key points in mind:
  • When you're trying to develop new habits-whether it's healthy eating, getting more exercise, or quitting smoking-you have a better chance of success if you make a plan ahead of time.
  • Knowing why you want to eat healthier can help you make changes in your eating habits. And writing down your reasons will be a good reminder later on if you get discouraged.
  • A plan for forming new habits includes long-term and short-term goals as well as ideas for getting past barriers-things that might get in the way of your success.
  • Start with small, short-term goals that you can reach pretty easily. It's easier to stay with something new when you have early, frequent successes.
  • Support from family and friends can go a long way toward helping you find success in eating healthier. Don't be afraid to let them know what you're trying to do-and ask for their help.

How can you use positive thinking to cope with anxiety?

Stop your thoughts

The first step is to stop your negative thoughts or "self-talk." Self-talk is what you think and believe about yourself and your experiences. It's like a running commentary in your head. Your self-talk may be positive and helpful. Or it may be negative and not helpful.

Ask about your thoughts

The next step is to ask yourself whether your thoughts are helpful or unhelpful. Look at what you're saying to yourself. Does the evidence support your negative thought? Some of your self-talk may be true. Or it may be partly true, but exaggerated.
One of the best ways to see if you are worrying too much is to look at the odds. What are the odds, or chances, that the bad thing you are worried about will happen? If you have a job review that has one small criticism among many compliments, what are the odds that you really are in danger of losing your job? The odds are probably low.
There are several kinds of irrational thoughts. Here are a few types to look for:
  • Focusing on the negative: This is sometimes called filtering. You filter out the good and focus only on the bad. Example: "I get so nervous speaking in public. I just know that people are thinking about how bad I am at speaking." Reality: Probably no one is more focused on your performance than you. It may help to look for some evidence that good things happened after one of your presentations. Did people applaud afterward? Did anyone tell you that you did a good job?
  • Should: People sometimes have set ideas about how they "should" act. If you hear yourself saying that you or other people "should," "ought to," or "have to" do something, then you might be setting yourself up to feel bad. Example: "I have to be in control all the time or I can't cope with things." Reality: There's nothing wrong with wanting to have some control over the things that you can control. But you may cause yourself anxiety by worrying about things that you can't control.
  • Overgeneralizing: This is taking one example and saying it's true for everything. Look for words such as "never" and "always." Example: "I'll never feel normal. I worry about everything all the time." Reality: You may worry about many things. But everything? Is it possible you are exaggerating? Although you may worry about many things, you also may find that you feel strong and calm about other things.
  • All-or-nothing thinking: This is also called black-or-white thinking. Example: "If I don't get a perfect job review, then I'll lose my job." Reality: Most performance reviews include some constructive criticism-something you can work on to improve. If you get five positive comments and one constructive suggestion, that is a good review. It doesn't mean that you're in danger of losing your job.
  • Catastrophic thinking: This is assuming that the worst will happen. This type of irrational thinking often includes "what if" questions. Example: "I've been having headaches lately. I'm so worried. What if it's a brain tumor?" Reality: If you have lots of headaches, you should see a doctor. But the odds are that it's something more common and far less serious. You might need glasses. You could have a sinus infection. Maybe you're getting tension headaches from stress.

Choose your thoughts

The next step is to choose a positive, helpful thought to replace the unhelpful one.
Keeping a journal of your thoughts is one of the best ways to practice stopping, asking, and choosing your thoughts. It makes you aware of your self-talk. Write down any negative or unhelpful thoughts you had during the day. If you think you might not remember them at the end of your day, keep a notepad with you so that you can write down any thoughts as they happen. Then write down helpful messages to correct the negative thoughts.
If you do this every day, positive or helpful thoughts will soon come naturally to you.
But there may be some truth in some of your negative thoughts. You may have some things you want to work on. If you didn't perform as well as you would like on something, write that down. You can work on a plan to correct or improve that area.
If you want, you also could write down what kind of irrational thought you had. Journal entries might look something like this:
Thought diary
Stop your negative thought
Ask what type of negative thought you had
Choose a positive, helpful thought
"I get so nervous speaking in public. I just know that people are thinking about how bad I am at speaking."
Focusing on the negative
"I'm probably better at public speaking than I think I am. The last time I gave a talk, people applauded afterward."
"I have to be in control all the time or I can't cope with things."
Should "I can only control how I think about things or what I do. I can't control some things, like how other people feel and act."
"I'll never feel normal. I worry about everything all the time." Overgeneralizing "I've laughed and relaxed before. I can practice letting go of my worries."
"My headaches must mean there is something seriously wrong with me."
Catastrophic thinking
"A lot of things can cause headaches. Most of them are minor and go away."

Why is positive thinking important to help you cope with anxiety?

Changing your thinking can help you prevent or cope with anxiety.1 It can help you stop the worry by replacing negative thoughts with helpful ones. It's also helpful in controlling panic attacks.
Positive thoughts can help stop the "fight or flight" feelings that you have with anxiety. In a fight-or-flight response, your body senses danger and the need to fight or run away. Your body releases hormones like adrenaline, which makes your heart beat fast and your blood pressure rise. Positive thoughts can calm you and stop this response.
For example, maybe you are about to have a job review. It's normal to be a little nervous. But you have trouble sleeping and have a fast heartbeat and sweaty hands. You think constantly about the review. You've been telling yourself that your boss is going to say bad things about your performance-even though you haven't been getting bad comments from her.
Or perhaps you have a doctor's appointment coming up. And you're worried that he may find something wrong.
If you have anxiety, you may worry a lot about many things. You are sure that something bad is going to happen, even though you have no proof that something bad will happen.
The more you talk in a negative way to yourself, the harder it is to keep a positive outlook. The negative thinking makes you feel bad. And that can make you feel more anxious, which leads to more bad thoughts about yourself. It's a cycle that's hard to break.
But with practice, you can retrain your brain. After all, you weren't born telling yourself negative things. You learned how to do it. So there’s no reason you can't teach your brain to unlearn it and replace negative thinking with more helpful thoughts.
Positive thinking also is good for your health in other ways. If you feel bad about yourself, you could get depressed. Positive thinking also can help you handle stress better. Too much stress can raise your blood pressure and make your heart work harder, which can increase your risk for a heart attack. Stress also can weaken your immune system, which can make you more open to infection and disease.

What is positive thinking?

Positive thinking, or healthy thinking, is a way to help you stay well 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-behavioral therapy, also called CBT, is a type of therapy that is often used to help people think in a healthy way. CBT can help you learn to replace negative thoughts with positive ones. These negative thoughts are sometimes called irrational or automatic thoughts.
Working on your own or with a counselor, you can practice these three steps:
  • Stop. When you notice a negative thought, stop it in its tracks and write it down.
  • Ask. Look at that thought and ask yourself whether it is helpful or unhelpful right now.
  • Choose. Choose a new, helpful thought to replace a negative one.
The goal is to have positive thoughts come naturally. It may take some time to change the way you think. So you will need to practice positive thinking every day.