When you feel unwell a lot of the time, it can be a challenge to take the healthy steps you know would benefit you.
New studies suggest, however, that people with chronic diseases can better succeed at making healthy choices if they apply techniques to help them create happy feelings (positive affect) and to affirm their self-worth (self-affirmation). The three large randomized, controlled trials—published in the Archives of Internal Medicine (2012; 172 , 322–43)—included 756 patients and used techniques from positive psychology combined with patient education to improve medication adherence and to increase exercise levels.
Techniques that improve positive affect include thinking of small things that make you feel good—like a beautiful sunrise, or babies, or the receipt of a small gift or unexpected compliment. Self-affirmation to help overcome obstacles includes recalling moments in life that stimulate feelings of pride. Practicing these techniques may help people to exercise when they don’t feel like it or to eat the right foods in spite of other temptations.To learn more about these three studies, go to www.archinternmed.com.