How Positive Reframing Benefits Your Health and Well-Being
Photo by pine watt on Unsplash
Written by: Sabrina Sourjah
Date Updated: 7/7/2021
Reviewed by: Patrick D. Randolph, Ph.D.
Positive reframing is a learned skill that we can exercise when we fall into exaggerated, all-or-nothing thinking.
A few years ago, I fared really badly in a job interview. I didn’t like the hiring manager in particular, and there were some red flags about the role that I chose to ignore. Even so, I was extremely disappointed in myself.
After a few months, I successfully interviewed for a different role in the same company. However, when I started working there, I witnessed the toxic working culture of the initial hiring manager and realized how fortunate I had been to “fail” in that first interview.
I wish I had had the maturity to reframe my initial “failure” positively at that time. It would have saved me from undue disappointment.
Life does seem unfair, and all kinds of misfortune seem to endlessly follow us until we shift the frame and get a different perspective.
“Humans see what they want to see.”
― Rick Riordan
What Is Positive Reframing?
Positive reframing is “thinking about a negative or challenging situation in a more positive way.” It takes effort and practice to start thinking about negative situations more favorably, as our default thinking is to view challenging situations negatively.
Positive Reframing Strategies
Here are a few examples of positive reframing in action.
- Examining evidence to support your view — This is an objective evaluation of facts to understand if your thoughts stand the test of reality. Positive cognitive reframing helps you understand the validity of your assumptions.
- Positive reframing through gratitude — When we express gratitude, our brains release dopamine and serotonin, two feel-good hormones. Consciously thinking about what you’re grateful for during challenging times can rewire your brain into a positive frame of mind.
- Positive affirmations — Your negative thoughts were learned during various challenging situations in the past, including from your childhood. Repeating positive affirmations that counter those thoughts daily or multiple times a day can change your thinking patterns.
- Reframing through mediation — Certain meditation techniques can help you gain a different perspective on life’s challenges. In addition, regular meditation will make you feel calmer, and you will begin to view life from a neutral place.
- Using learnings from the past — Whenever I start beating myself up, I think about that first interview and what I learned from it. This shifts my perspective in seconds, and I recognize that disappointments are mostly blessings in disguise.
Benefits of Positive Reframing
1. Overall Health
Positive reframing can be used to decrease stress that rises from challenging situations. This can benefit your health because research has found that about 60–80% of primary care visits have a stress-related component. In addition, positive reframing is effective in treating addictions. Therefore, health complications connected to alcohol and opioid addictions can be managed better through positive reframing.
2. Surgery Outcomes
After surgery, you may have wounds, incisions, and operated internal organs that need to heal. As per research, stress can slow down postoperative wound healing. However, since stress can be better managed through positive reframing, this should help faster recovery as well.
3. Mental Health
Research confirms that positive reframing can help address anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. A positive mindset can nurture your mental well-being, and you will not be rattled by stressors easily.
When you reframe challenges positively and look for opportunities in trying situations, you remain more optimistic than others. Research has found that “higher optimism levels were associated with longer life span and greater likelihood of achieving exceptional longevity.”
5. Life Satisfaction
When you train yourself to change your perspective, you become more joyful to be around. Therefore, your relationships will prosper while you grow as a person. All this, combined with benefits on overall health, mental health, and longevity, can raise your level of satisfaction with life.
You can train yourself to use positive reframing for a better outlook on life. If you need help, reach out to a professional who can question your assumptions and help shed light on your limited thinking.