Gratitude isn’t just for Thanksgiving – it’s also for your health!
November is the time of year when we start thinking about gratitude. With Thanksgiving looming, we take a moment to recognize and appreciate the positive aspects of our lives.
But feeling gratitude shouldn’t start and stop with the holiday season. Gratitude can have a positive impact on your health, and that’s something you can take advantage of year-round.
Regular gratitude has psychological, emotional, and even physical health benefits. It can lead to greater happiness, reduced stress, improved relationships, and a more positive outlook on life.
So, what is gratitude anyway?
Gratitude is a feeling of thankfulness for the things, people, and experiences that bring joy, benefit, or value to your life. Gratitude is even more powerful when showing and expressing appreciation to others.
The effects of gratitude on your health
While it’s not a direct cure for medical conditions, practicing gratitude has been associated with physical and mental health benefits. Here are some ways in which gratitude can influence your health:
Improved mental health: Gratitude can help lower stress levels and elevate emotional well-being, increasing happiness and overall life satisfaction.
Better sleep: A gratitude practice before bed may improve sleep quality by reducing stress and anxiety.
Enhanced psychological resilience: Gratitude can help cope with adversity and build resilience, making it easier to bounce back from challenging situations.
Stronger relationships: Expressing gratitude towards others strengthens social bonds and fosters positive relationships. Healthy relationships are associated with improved mental and emotional well-being.
Reduced symptoms of depression: Some studies found that regularly practicing gratitude may reduce symptoms of depression and increase feelings of hopefulness.
Lower blood pressure and better immune system function: Reducing those feelings of stress can reduce blood pressure and enhance immune system function.
Better pain management: Gratitude exercises focus on the positive aspects of life rather than pain and discomfort. They have been explored as a complementary aspect of pain management.
Healthier lifestyle choices: Grateful people may be more inclined to engage in healthy behaviors like regular exercise and a balanced diet.
10 ways to practice gratitude
A gratitude practice can be explored through a wide range of activities.
- Keep a gratitude journal.
- Express gratitude verbally to those around you, or write a note to express your appreciation.
- Reflect on the good things that happened in your day at bedtime.
- Create a gratitude jar and fill it with notes of spontaneous gratitude. You can go back and read them when you need a positive reminder!
- Practice a mindfulness meditation.
- Set gratitude reminders to prompt a pause to reflect on the positive aspects of life.
- Share gratitude at mealtimes for the food you are about to enjoy and all the people who brought it to your plate.
- Volunteer or perform random acts of kindness.
- Start the day by considering one or two things you are grateful for.
- Practice gratitude even during difficult times to build emotional resiliency.
Gratitude is considered an essential component of a fulfilling and meaningful life, and many people incorporate gratitude practices into their daily routines to cultivate this positive emotion.
Your gratitude practice can complement traditional healthcare approaches and contribute to a healthier and happier life.