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People don’t realize that their moods are influenced by different thoughts and emotions. They do not link these factors together and therefore often feel sad and exhausted. A great deal of research has been carried out on this subject, which unanimously confirms that thoughts influence not only people’s moods, but also their physical health.

What does the science say?

The connection between thoughts and the workings of the human brain was already studied in 1995 by scientists from the National Institute of Mental Health. They used a neuroimaging method to study how certain thoughts affect brain function. The study group was healthy women. In the first phase of the study, the researchers scanned the brains of women immersed in positive thoughts, and in the second phase they scanned the brains of women immersed in negative thoughts. The results clearly showed that when the subjects were thinking positive thoughts, their brain activity was at an optimal level. However, when they started thinking about negative things, their brain automatically activated the areas responsible for, among other things, the formation of depression. Another study on a similar topic showed that negative thoughts cause changes in the brain that are long-lasting. In practice, this means that an increased amount of negative thoughts affects the way people view the world. Consequently, this can even lead to depressive disorders. What’s more, according to research, more than 30,000 heart attacks per year are triggered by short-term anger. People who get angry frequently and fail to manage their rage are at risk for cardiovascular disease. Numerous studies show that an optimistic view of the world reduces the risk of dangerous diseases

How does our state of mind affect our mood?

Negative and positive thoughts affect the neural networks found in the human brain. Studies show that people who are optimistic about life are calmer, do not experience tension in their muscles, and are less prone to illness. Moreover, they do not suffer from insomnia and permanent stress. On the other hand, people with a pessimistic attitude to life, whose head is filled with dark thoughts, have a weakened immune system, are more likely to get sick, cry, feel anxious, which in turn leads to depressive disorders and permanent stress, whose characteristic symptom is constant muscle tension. People who are optimistic about life also feel stress, but it is not as intensified. Pessimists fail to understand that you can’t predict everything, and stress is a consequence of random events. What is more, people with a positive attitude to life try to find the good sides of every situation and quickly look for simple solutions. People with a pessimistic disposition act completely differently

What thoughts to avoid for our well-being?

If we feel bad or have fallen into the trap of negative thoughts, there is a lot we can do to help ourselves. If unhelpful, pessimistic thoughts lead to stress or anxiety, it is worth turning them into positive thoughts. To do this, the cognitive restructuring method is recommended. To begin with, the negative thoughts need to be diagnosed. It is worth asking yourself questions such as: “What am I thinking about?”, “Why am I thinking this way?”, “What is this thought leading me to?”. The next, rather difficult step is to challenge your own thoughts. You need to concentrate hard and look for logical solutions that do not predict negative events, but rather the opposite. It is useful to look at your observations from the other person’s perspective and objectively assess the whole situation. The last and most difficult step is the correction of thoughts. When negative thoughts appear in your head, you should be focused and attentive. Find their cause and try to change the pattern of thinking. This is the most difficult task, because the brain has learned over many years to live with pessimistic beliefs and constant anxiety – but this is no good, it brings much more harm than good. It’s important to remember that there is a way out of every situation, and negative thoughts only add to the anxiety, not helping at all

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