When we talk about a healthy life, usually our minds go to being physically fit without any disease conditions. Very rarely do we talk about the mind. In recent years however, due to the conditions of isolation a lot of us have had the opportunity to face our thoughts which we so often than most close off in order to move on in our day to day lives. A happy and healthy lifestyle is a combination of a healthy body and a healthy mind.
What is having a healthy mindset mean?
A mindset is having an outlook towards life. This outlook can either be a positive outlook or a negative one. A healthy mindset is the way we move ahead of our thoughts be it positive or negative without letting it overwhelming our decisions. Our ability to grow from these thoughts, is what is called having a healthy mindset.
Why is it having a healthy mindset important?
When we are born, our minds act like a sponge. We observe, we listen we take in new stimuli, new emotions and we build our thoughts, attitudes and behaviour based on what we learn from our surroundings. It gets engrained in our minds and as we grow, we build up on that foundation of thoughts. Certain thoughts can be fixed which we believe cannot be changed. If we have a fixed mindset, it becomes very difficult to learn new skills, to think positively and to grow from changes in the environment. This line of thought can in a long term affect our decision making, our ability to try something new and make our attitude and behaviour very rigid. You might have seen certain people who have been practicing certain beliefs since they were children and now at an adult age or even old age are not willing to accept change or behave stubborn in learning the new outlook seen in the younger generation. This not only affects how they handle themselves mentally but it affects their physical health as well. Because of the fixed mindset, they are not open to changing certain behaviours and habits for e.g. a person who started smoking at a young age and has a fixed mindset of not changing that behaviour. Maybe that behaviour helps them when they stressed and have never tried anything else to calm them during stressful situations. For these people, changing that habit or thought is very difficult because they are associating their calmness on something that is slowly deteriorating their health internally. This type of fixed behaviour can be changed only when the person decides to grow from their fixed behaviour and make a positive change in their life. That is the power of a growth mindset. The growth mindset helps you believe and think that there is more to learn from your current situation, there is room for improvement and you are willing to make changes to achieve the new goal. So, a person with a growth mindset, will see that smoking is affecting his/her health, their eating habits, and indirectly affecting the people around them. And they are willing to accept this and set their mindset towards a healthy change. Having a growing health mindset helps in understanding that our habits, believes and behaviours are affecting our health be it having junk food on a daily basis, substance abuse or having sedentary lifestyle. These unhealthy behaviours and habits can be changed and made better by thinking in a positive way and making the necessary changes in our lifestyle to become a healthier version of ourselves.
What components of health mindset can help one stay on track?
Our minds are very powerful. It has the ability to put our thoughts into reality if we believe strong enough in them. This phenomenon is termed as the placebo effect. A placebo effect is a brain and body connection that helps in prompting health and well being by just merely thinking that you’re doing better or a course of treatment is working. If you feed your brain with positive thoughts and beliefs, that can induce actual responses in the brain, can trigger neurotransmitter release, hormone production as well as an immune response to stress to relieve your symptoms. All that is possible with a positive attitude and thoughts.
Positive thinking does not mean that unpleasantness is absent or gone. It simply means that in the presence on unpleasantness, you are thinking positive and approaching the issues in a productive way. A positive mind can improve your health and help in developing a healthy lifestyle.
You may have heard “You are what you eat”. However, a new terminology has come into picture that says “You are what you think you eat”. In one such study, participants were given a “sensible” shake of 140 calories and an “indulgent” shake of 620 calories. Their satiation level and blood levels of a hormone named ghrelin were measured. Ghrelin is a hormone that promotes hunger when the levels are high and promotes satiety when the levels are low. The twist in this study was that both the shakes were the same with the same calories that’s 380 calories. Even though the shakes were the same, the participants said that they were satiated after drinking the indulgent shake. The ghrelin levels even lowered after the participants drank the indulgent shake compared to the sensible shake where their ghrelin level remained the same. Our thoughts can be so powerful that what eats can even change the physiological response of our body because we believe it does.
Similar response can be attributed to physical activity. Studies have shown that who believe they are active live longer and healthier compared to people who think they not as active even when they both perform the same physical activities. Our perspective of our health and well being can shape how we live, what we eat, and promote a healthy lifestyle.
And how can we develop this health mindset?
The first step to having a healthy mindset and a healthy approach to our health is by positive self-talk. It’s the belief that we can achieve our goals to make them come true. If we doubt our abilities and skills, it may not give us the results we want even if we are putting in similar efforts as other’s around us. I have seen people working out and following a healthy diet and a healthy lifestyle, yet they find it difficult to achieve their goals while other’s who are putting in the same effort get results very quickly. One of the reasons that happens is that every person’s body reacts differently to external stimuli. If 2 people are following the same diet and workout schedule, they might not get the same results. And an important aspect that goes along with the physiological response is our mental response. When we compare our health with someone else or want a physique as them, we are not creating a healthy mindset. In fact, that unhealthy approach is why we don’t feel satisfied with our results. We should strive to be a healthier version of old selves. When we remove the focus from “looking good” to “feeling good” we will have better results and achieve a healthier mindset.
What are the benefits of having health mindset?
Having a positive outlook or mindset enables you to cope with stressful situations better, reducing the stress on your about and your health as well. Other than reducing stress, positive thinking may also be associated with increased life span, low rates of depression or other neurological disorders, reduced risk of metabolic conditions like diabetes, hypertension or obesity and have a better psychological health and healthier lifestyle.
How to maintain a healthy mindset?
As mentioned earlier the first step to develop healthy mindset is positive self-talk. And In order to maintain this development, one should identify their negative thoughts and replace them with positive thought to build a healthy and positive mindset. To understand how to do that
A healthy positive outlook towards your health can help in making healthier choices and build healthier habits. Your mind has the power to improve your health, use it wisely!
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