Healthy Thinking and Your Health: A Guide for Planting the Seeds to Your Best Life
By John Weaver, Psy.D.
As I write this, we are a little over one week from the first presentation in our new Healthy
Thinking Center, located in our West Allis clinic at 2514 South 102nd Street, Suite 275. The free presentation is titled Healthy Thinking and Your Health: A Guide for Planting the Seeds to Your Best Life, by John Weaver, Psy.D. It will happen next Friday, January 24th, from 6:30 – 7:30 PM (Central Time), immediately following our open house which is scheduled from 4:00 – 6:30 PM. We would be honored for you to join us. If you are unable to come, you can still watch the presentation which will be streamed on Facebook Live.
Healthy thinking is one important aspect of our overall health.
Being healthy is more than just the absence of disease. Health involves our ability to have a good fit with our environment, both our inner environment as well as our outer environment. This requires the ability to adapt to ever changing needs, from minimizing the impact of viruses and toxins and recovering from an injury, to finding sources of energy and using that energy efficiently and effectively, as well as finding our place in our family, community, and the world. Our thoughts interact with all of these dimensions of health.
Research has consistently shown that developing and practicing mindfulness, optimism, and resilience offer us improved resistance to disease, faster recovery and less susceptibility to illness as well as greater happiness and success in all aspects of life.
Mindfulness, according to the definition offered by Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D. is a particular way of paying attention: on purpose, in the present moment, and without judgement. This definition is simple, but don’t confuse simple with easy. Mindfulness practices pull us out of our tendency toward living on “automatic pilot” and offer us alternatives to a reactive life enslaved by our emotions.
Martin Seligman, Ph.D. defines optimism as an “attributional style.” Different than positive thinking, this approach focuses on what we attribute to the sources of optimistic and pessimistic experiences. Optimistic people attribute the good things in their life to at least being influenced by something they do. By finding out what they do that makes life more positive, they are able to engage in those actions more often and in more areas of their daily life. They systematically create a better and happier life.
Resilience is the core of what we mean by stress management. If we are able to effectively deal with the adversity in life, we are better able to both survive as well as thrive in our environments. Salvadore Maddi and Suzanne Khobasa identified for core factors that promote what they called “stress hardiness.” We need to see ourselves as having a connection to something bigger than our self, we need to focus on what is in our control, we need to welcome and engage in the challenges that life brings to us and we need to have the support of others who love us.
These scientifically supported thinking strategies can improve the quality of health and happiness for those who practice them. Join us in exploring practical tips for implementing these thinking styles in your life, either in person or find us online.
Christmas and New Year's were times of joy and celebration for many people. Not only were the actual events pleasant, the time spent in anticipation of and preparation for the holidays gave you something to look forward to. But the pary's over, so where do you go from here? In my practice, I usually don't see as many people trying to work through seasonal 'blues' during November and December as much as I do after the holidays. However, with a little insight into some potential post-holiday challenges, 2020 can be one of your best years ever.
Be on the alert for negative thinking:
Here are a few post-holiday problem areas that people often report:
It was fun looking forward to Christmas and New Year's (but now I don't have anything to anticipate except the usual routine of my life).
The Christmas credit card bill arrived in the mail (and I'm depressed about it).
The weather during the first few months of the year is cold, and the lack of sunlight makes things dreary (I wish I lived somewhere else).
I made a New Year's resolution that I really wasn't prepared to meet (and now I feel guilty about it).
Be a realist and don't dwell on the negatives:
I've never heard anyone say that it's more fun cleaning up after a party than it was preparing for it. Realize what's under your control to change at this time of the year as well as which life events you should simply cope with the best you can. You can't wish away your holiday credit card bill, but you can perhaps curtail your spending right now until you're more financially settled. Hoping for warmer, sunnier weather this time of year won't change the forecast, but you can make the most of what you do during the available sunlight hours. If your New Year's resolution is proving to be too lofty, don't abandon it - just revise it into more attainable steps.
Have a positive outlook and move ahead:
So keep the fond memories of the holidays, but have the courage to move beyond the challenges that they've left behind. Sure, it may take less effort to hold onto negative thoughts than it does to move forward, but in the end it's usually worth the energy to make constructive changes. It's time to set some goals for the new year, not only to achieve them, but to also have somethihng to anticipate. We all need something to look forward to - that's what gives our lives a sense of purpose. The holidays are over, but don't forget the energy and positive attitude that you had getting ready for them. You now can re-create that spirit a little bit each day in 2020.
Copyright-2020-John Ernst, PhD
John Ernst, PhD, LPC, treats children, adolescents, families, individual adults and couples in outpatient psychotherapy for diverse clinical issues. He is presently accepting new patients. To establish an appointment, please contact Dr. Ernst at 414 329-7000 and ask for him specifically to discuss your initial questions.