This site is intended for health professionals only

by Sheela Hobden
29 October 2021

Share this article

Can smiling really improve our well-being?

Let’s explore the power of positivity to help us through a busy winter, says Sheela Hobden.

As autumn darkens the edges of our days, and we dig deep to find the resolve to keep going, it is hard to see how we ‘will get through’ the winter. So it is helpful to know that those with an optimistic and positive outlook on life will tend to ‘survive’ it better than others. 

We are wired (thanks to our ancestors) to look out for negative things. It is all about protection.  However, the things we used to need to protect ourselves from, on a daily basis, are no longer threats – such as being attacked by a bear – so this is not so useful now.

Positive emotions therefore are an essential part of our well-being. There are in fact, many studies (three are listed here) showing the power of a positive outlook and how it links to resilience and its impact on wellbeing. 

It is worth explaining here that having a positive approach is not about ‘being happy’ all the time. It’s more the way we believe that during tough times ‘this too shall pass’ and of course, being present in each and every moment.

Martin Seligmans’ positive psychology approach describes this as realistic optimism: I talk more about that here. What I also notice is that people who engage in coaching relationships develop a more positive outlook overall, as a result of taking time to examine their thoughts.

For ideas on how you can foster a more optimistic outlook, try these ideas:

  • Bring something to mind that puts a smile on your face. Take a moment to let that emotion flow through your body.
  • Stand in front of something you see every day. Challenge yourself to identify its positive features.
  • Imagine how you are ‘on the other side’ of whatever struggle you are facing right now.

Sheela Hobden is a Coach at bluegreen Coaching. Following her own mental health battles, she now coaches individuals, runs training sessions and speaks at conferences. She has a real passion for helping medics and healthcare professionals take as much care of themselves as they do their patients. She is also a Mentor Coach and Coach Supervisor. She has a PGCERT in Business and Personal Coaching, holds PCC member status with the ICF and is CIPD qualified. She challenges herself with ultra distance running and Ironman. Find her at or swimming in the sea, in Poole, Dorset. Sign up to her newsletter for more.