Negativity is, to some extent, a part of life. Thanks to stress and anxiety, we find ourselves worrying over the worst-case scenario regularly. However, negativity can come from different sources and impact our lives in various ways. Chronic illness, a negative home or work environment, and interpersonal relationships can lead to negative thinking. It's difficult to combat negativity, but adopting a positive outlook has immediate advantages and will benefit you and those around you.
Negativity is sometimes called "a negative affect" by clinicians and psychologists, who define it as a range of negative emotions that include anger, anxiety, sadness, fear, and irritability. Negativity and a negative affect are often referred to in conjunction with negativity bias, where negative emotions and experiences carry more weight and impact than positive ones.
Multiple studies have researched the effects that parental negativity can have on children. A negative home environment in a child's first three years is linked to developmental issues as he or she grows. One study found that a mother's negativity, specifically, influenced children's negative emotionality in middle childhood. This could be linked to a shared negative environment. It is well-documented that children adopt many of the characteristics of their parents through environmental factors, both positive and negative.
People with chronic physical illnesses often have a negative affect that manifests as anxiety or depression. Since the physical and mental symptoms of these illnesses and their treatments can mirror depression and anxiety, it can be difficult to identify and diagnose the mental illnesses that accompany physical ones. One study found that the development of depression in people with medical illnesses negatively affects their physical outcomes.
Negativity in the workplace is often a result of dissatisfaction and discontent. A lack of cooperation and healthy communication also fosters negativity, which can express itself as gossip, sarcasm, and insensitivity. Experts associate certain types of work with higher levels of negativity. For example, a paper in the Journal of Advanced Nursing found that employees who worked shifts experienced psychological distress and lower job involvement.
Stress from work and stress at home can blend into one larger issue. A study in the Oxford University Press noted that "job insecurity and home stress were most strongly associated with depression and anxiety symptoms." A stressful or negative home environment does not only affect children. Calming activities and environments are important in managing stress, and upsetting home environments can leave working adults feeling wound up and poorly equipped to handle negativity.
Having a negative outlook could be associated with depression in some people, but the link has not been fully explored. Research done in the Netherlands found that a genetic liability to depression in twins was expressed by negative affect. The twins in the study who were predisposed had an excessively negative reaction to even mild stressors.
Social media has helped fuel negativity in teens and adults, and its negative impacts often outweigh the positive ones. Social media exposes people to negative social interactions, like cyberbullying, and to negative media and content. Self-deprecation and the tendency to compare oneself to others is also a negative byproduct of social media usage. The continual cycle of pessimism and cynicism online can leave users feeling drained and affect their mood.
Many extroverts find it rejuvenating to interact with others. Some social interactions, however, can be emotionally draining and contribute to negativity. Research shows that "social negativity with spouses, relatives, and friends had a strong positive association with the number of anxiety and mood disorder episodes." Other research done with older widowed women noticed that negative social interactions were more tied to well-being than positive ones, which aligns with the idea of an inherent negative bias.
Your activity levels and physical health can impact your mood, either positively or negatively. Physical activity has been shown to alleviate the symptoms of mild to moderate depression, reduce anxiety, and improve mood. Good physical health can predict a positive attitude, and a negative attitude is linked to neuroticism. Researchers are still studying the type and duration of exercise that is most effective in reducing negativity and improving mental health.
Just as there are various causes of negativity, there are plenty of ways to adopt a more positive attitude. Solutions to negativity and its manifestations include mindfulness and combating negative thoughts with positive ones. In some people, cognitive therapy can help challenge negative thinking and increase positivity. Reducing stressors and identifying the cause of negativity is also an important step towards becoming more optimistic. Of course, professional help is vital for people whose negativity stems from a diagnosed mental illness.
This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.