Positive Thinking: Oct'13

How important is positive thinking? If it doesn't come naturally, what can you do to help maintain a positive outlook? Dr Mark Winwood our Director of Psychological Services, answered these questions.

AXA PPP healthcare: Hello and welcome to our live chat with Dr Mark Winwood about postive thinking

Sidd asked: Why is it that at times I feel there is no end to this mess and no one is helping?

Dr Mark Winwood answered: Hello Sidd. When people are feeling  low or depressed they usually find themselves thinking very negative thoughts about themselves and the world; typically these thoughts are felt to be absolutely true and that there is no way of things ever changing. However, studies have shown that when people are no longer depressed they go back to seeing things in a more positive and balanced way.
Negative thoughts affect the way people feel, therefore frequently perceiving things in a very negative way will exacerbate feelings of depression.
There are ways to help people who feel low or depressed often stop doing pleasurable activities which would make them feel better in the short term, for example they may stop going out, opt out of regular sporting activity, or stop going to see friends . Encourage yourself to start doing things again - activity can lift your mood and you may well find that you can do things better than you imagine. If you usually enjoy going to the cinema or swimming, for example, try these things to start with. Any activity will be helpful, but enjoyable activities and physical exercise/sport are particularly effective.
If you find your low mood persists it may be time to discuss this with your GP or healthcare professional. All the very best


If you missed our live chat and have any further questions relating to positive thinking, then why not ask our panel of experts a question?


Ed commented: This is the first time I have used AXA's Live Chat service. I take it, the service is purely a chatroom hosted by a healthcare professional? ...and there isn't going to be a lecture or presentation about Positive Think via video?

AXA PPP healthcare commented: Hi Ed, thankls very much for joining. Yes we host the live chat with Dr Mark Winwood taking your questions. So its a Q&A on positive thinking..all by text, no video chat...So please ask a question

Ed commented: OK. Thanks.

Dr Mark Winwood answered: Hello Ed. There isn't going to be a video at this session butit is an opportunty for you to share any thoughts or questions you might have on positive thinking style and how they may contribute to improved wellbeing.

AXA PPP healthcare: Mark, can you give us some pointers for positive there a list (as such)?

Dr Mark Winwood answered: Here are a few ideas -
You can learn to turn negative thinking into positive thinking. The process is simple, but it does take time and practice — you're creating a new habit, after all. Here are some ways to think and behave in a more positive and optimistic way:
1. 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, for example. You can start small by focusing on one area to approach in a more positive way.
 2. Check yourself. Periodically during the day, stop and evaluate what you're thinking. If you find that your thoughts are mainly negative, try to find a way to put a positive spin on them.
3. Have a good laugh. Give yourself permission to smile or laugh, especially during difficult times. Seek the funny side in everyday happenings. When you can laugh at life, you feel less stressed.
4. 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.
5. 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 level and make you doubt your ability to manage stress in healthy ways.
6. Practice positive self-talk. Start by following one simple rule: Don't say anything to yourself that you wouldn't say to anyone else. Be gentle and encouraging with yourself. If a negative thought enters your mind, evaluate it rationally and respond with affirmations of what is good about you.

AXA PPP healthcare commented: Thanks Mark, thats great we'll pass that information onto our facebook and twitter followers

Anonymous214 asked: I have been in a relationship for the past year but it ended this week.  I don't feel positive about anything now, what can I do to try to change my mind set and help me focus and move on?

Dr Mark Winwood answered: Hello 214. It is sometimes difficult to think positively when something you percieve is bad has happened.  But there are ways of helping you think more rationally about the future and also to learn from this period in your life.
A few tips are:
1. Remember that the past does not equal the future. Because this relationshiphas ended it does not mean that all of your relationships or friendships will always end.
2. Refuse to make self-fulfilling prophesies. If you believe the rest of your week will be as challenging as what's already happened, then rest assured: You'll end up doing something (or saying) something that will make sure that your prediction comes true.
3. Get a sense of proportion. Think about the big picture: Unless the end of this relationship is life changing given time you will start to think very differently about this situation.  Events do tend to lose their power.
4. Keep healthy Your body and brain are in a feedback loop: A bad mood makes you tired, which makes your mood worse, and so forth. Interrupt the pattern by getting up and moving around.  Take a walk or eat something healthy.
5. Focus on what's going well. The primary reason you're convinced it's a bad week is that you're focusing on whatever went wrong. However, for everything going badly, there are probably dozens of things going well.  Make list, and post it where it's visible.  Do this everyday.
6. Be optimisitic Just as an attitude of doom and gloom makes you see more problems, facing the future with a sense of optimism makes you alive to all sorts of wonderful things that are going on, right now, everywhere around you. Good luck


If you missed our live chat and have any further questions relating to positive thinking, then why not ask our panel of experts a question?


AXA PPP healthcare: Do you think some people are more positive than others? Whats to be gained by being around more positive people? if you're more negative

Dr Mark Winwood answered: I think some people are more positive than others - think of the 'glass half full/half empty' scenario.  However, we can learn some top tips from positive optimistic thinkers and evidence suggests it can be really helpful and support us at times of stress.
Positive thinking doesn't mean that you keep your head in the sand and ignore life's less pleasant situations. Positive thinking just means that you approach the unpleasantness in a more positive and productive way. You think the best is going to happen, not the worst.
Positive thinking often starts with self-talk. Self-talk is the endless stream of unspoken thoughts that run through your head every day. These automatic thoughts can be positive or negative. Some of your self-talk comes from logic and reason. Other self-talk may arise from misconceptions that you create because of lack of information.
Researchers continue to explore the effects of positive thinking and optimism on health. Health benefits that positive thinking may provide include:
Increased life span
Lower rates of depression
Lower levels of distress
Greater resistance to the common cold
Better psychological and physical well-being
Reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease
Better coping skills during hardships and times of stress

AXA PPP healthcare commented: Thanks Mark

Anonymous215 asked: Mark, do you have any advice about thinking more positively during stressful periods at work? It's very easy to get into a negative cycle thinking your colleagues or your boss are against you when the workload is mounting up...

Dr Mark Winwood answered: Hello 215. It can be really hardtoo think positively if you are feeling stressed at work. We can also adopt thinking styles that are not helpful - these thinking patterns include:
1.Filtering. You magnify the negative aspects of a situation and filter out all of the positive ones. For example, say you had a great day at work. You completed your tasks ahead of time and were complimented for doing a speedy and thorough job. But you forgot one minor step. That evening, you focus only on your oversight and forget about the compliments you received.
2. Personalising. When something bad occurs, you automatically blame yourself. For example, you hear that an evening out with friends is canceled, and you assume that the change in plans is because no one wanted to be around you.
3.Catastrophising. You automatically anticipate the worst. The drive-through coffee shop gets your order wrong and you automatically think that the rest of your day will be a disaster.
4. Polarising. You see things only as either good or bad, black or white. There is no middle ground. You feel that you have to be perfect or that you're a total failure.
Look at your thought patern when you are stressed at work - do any of the above style of thinkng sound familiar?  by identifying some of the negative thinking styles and noticing when they happen you can then start to challenge those thoughts.  By challenging negative thoughts they lose their power and you will then be able to start feeling more optimistic. Good luck!

AXA PPP healthcare asked: Thanks for joining our live chat, it finishes at 3pm so any last questions please posts them now... Thanks Mark, the chat has now finished.


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