Mind Over Matter: How to Cultivate a Positive Mindset to Reach Your Health Goals
“Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.”
This quote is generally attributed to the American industrialist Henry Ford, and is a classic example of the idea of mind-over-matter. In other words, the ways in which a positive mindset and a can-do attitude make all the difference when it comes to achieving the things you want to achieve.
Health goals are very personal and no two people will have exactly the same goals for the same reasons. But one thing remains true: whether you want to lose weight, get fit, build muscle, recover from an injury, or improve your diet, a positive mindset can help you to get there and to feel great while you’re doing it.
Here are four ways to cultivate a positive mindset and use it to help you reach those goals.
Speak Kindly to Yourself
Unfortunately, most of us have the habit of speaking unkindly to ourselves. We might call ourselves names, berate ourselves for the things we do or the choices we’ve made, or tell ourselves that we are incapable of reaching our goals.
The first step towards building a more positive mindset is to eliminate negative self-talk as much as possible. You might not be able to break the habit overnight, but with some small steps you can reduce how often and how intensely you do it.
Next time you catch yourself thinking or saying something unkind about yourself, think “would I say this to a child or to my best friend?” If you wouldn’t, then you should not be saying it to yourself either.
Then try to replace those negative words with something more positive, uplifting, and kind. Consider phrases like “I’m not perfect but I am doing my best” or “I am striving to improve myself every day.” Again, think about how you would comfort a loved one if they were feeling bad about themselves.
Celebrate Small Achievements
Starting out on a health journey can be daunting. When you have a big goal, such as losing a significant amount of weight or running a marathon, you might feel as though you are standing at the foot of a mountain with no idea how to start climbing it.
One of the best ways to stay positive is to celebrate all the small steps you take on your way to your main goal. Did you say no to a second helping of dessert when you weren’t hungry? Way to go! Did you lift a little more weight today than last week? Amazing! Did you go out for a run even though it was raining and you didn’t really feel like it? Great achievement!
Health goals do not have to be all or nothing. Every little step you take really does count, so celebrate all of those little wins along the way.
Anticipate and Plan for Setbacks
Setbacks will happen on every health journey. You might gain some weight while you’re on vacation, miss a workout to deal with an emergency, or have to contend with an injury that sets your progress back.
What matters is not avoiding setbacks (this would be impossible), but planning for them and ensuring they do not derail your overall progress.
Planning for setbacks might include strategies such as preparing and freezing healthy meals for when you return from a vacation, or stocking up on recovery wear to help you if you sustain a minor injury. You might need to adjust your plan for a few weeks to account for a change in circumstances, or simply give yourself some grace as you get back on the health wagon.
People with positive mindsets are not luckier than the rest of us. They experience the same issues and setbacks, but they know how to pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and keep moving towards their goal.
Studies have shown that practicing gratitude, and particularly keeping a gratitude journal, can have a major impact on wellbeing and quality of life. So if you want to build a more positive mindset that will help you reach your goals, begin by writing down 3-5 things each day that you are grateful for.
The items you choose can be as big or small as you like. Perhaps you’re grateful for the love of your family, friends, or pets. Perhaps you’re grateful for the beautiful sunrise you saw this morning. Or perhaps you are simply grateful that your coffee is hot and that it didn’t rain on your way to work.
There are no wrong answers here. The only trick is to be authentic and consistent.
How do you cultivate a positive mindset?
And has it helped you to achieve your health goals? Let us know in the comments.