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Having a Bad Attitude Could Be Bad for Your Health

There are plenty of times in life when it’s way easier to see the glass half empty, not half full. You know, like looking for a job or the pressures of baby-making. And a recent study is kind of kicking us while we’re down.

Unhappy woman listening to the music

Results from a study done on factors of coronary heart disease found that people who had pessimistic personality traits were more likely to die from the disease than others. In fact, over the course of 11 years, researchers found that study participants in the highest one-quarter of scores on pessimism were more than twice as likely to die of heart disease as those in the lowest one-quarter.

Obviously, being optimistic at certain times can be easier said than done, so we called in Dr. Kim Kjome, a psychiatrist at the Seton Mind Institute, to share four tips to help you put a pause on your pessimism before it turns unhealthy.

1. Know it’s normal. It’s pretty unrealistic to think we’re going to be optimistic 24/7. In fact, being pessimistic at times is not dangerous; it’s pretty normal, but you should be aware of how often you do have those negative thoughts. Dr. Kjome says, “If you hold a negative world view, it can increase your stress levels, and it can decrease neurotransmitters in the brain that improve well-being. If you find yourself constantly expressing negative views or having pessimistic thoughts, being mindful of these thoughts is key to fighting pessimism. Recognize what specifically is triggering these thoughts, and monitor how frequently they come up.”

2. Plan ahead. Life is full of stressful situations — salary negotiations, planning a wedding and being a first-time parent all come to mind. But when possible, you should prep yourself for pessimism. Dr. Kjome expands, saying, “If you’re going into a stressful situation such as a large family gathering that you haven’t been looking forward to, cope ahead. Figure out how to mitigate some of the negativity by balancing the experiences you don’t enjoy with ones that you do. After a stressful experience, plan to do something that will recharge you and balance out the stressful experience.”

3. Fight the stress. “The more stressed out you are, which can be especially common during the holidays, the more pessimistic you become,” says Dr. Kjome. Make sure that over the holidays, you take extra great care of yourself by eating well, getting enough sleep and working to maintain overall balance in your life.

4. Ask for help. There’s no shame in needing a little extra help now and then. And recognizing your tipping point is critical. Dr. Kjome advises, “People with a pessimistic world view can usually be helped greatly with cognitive behavioral therapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy identifies long held negative beliefs and challenges them. It can give people new ways to see the world and their existence.”

Fretting about the upcoming holidays? Tweet us how you plan to cope @BritandCo!

(Photo via Getty)