According to scientists being grateful correlates directly to your overall wellbeing. In an article from NBC Today not only does being grateful benefit your health but it also improves your mood. Below is an outline from the NBC Today News article:
– “Clinical trials indicate that the practice of gratitude can have dramatic and lasting effects in a person’s life,” states Robert A. Emmons, professor of psychology at UC Davis. “It can lower blood pressure, improve immune function and facilitate more efficient sleep.” In addition another study from the University of California-San Diego’s School of Medicine found that people who were more grateful actually had better heart health, specifically less inflammation and improved heart rhythms. “They showed a better well-being, a less depressed mood, less fatigue and they slept better,” writes Paul J. Mills. He continues on to mention that “when I am more grateful, I feel more connected with myself and with my environment. That’s the opposite of what stress does.”
– People who keep a gratitude journal have a reduced dietary fat intake — as much as 25 percent lower. Stress hormones like cortisol are 23 percent lower in grateful people. Additionally, having a daily gratitude practice could actually reduce the effects of aging to the brain. Being thankful has such a profound effect because of the feelings that go along with it, Emmons declares.
– Another study found that gratitude can boost your immune system. For example, researchers from the University of Utah and Kentucky have observed that stressed-out law students who characterized themselves as optimistic actually had more disease-fighting cells in their bodies.
– “Gratitude works because, as a way of perceiving and interpreting life, it recruits other positive emotions that have direct physical benefits, most likely through the immune or endocrine system.”
– Research shows that when we think about what we appreciate, the parasympathetic or calming part of the nervous system is triggered and that can have benefits on the body. Which includes decreasing cortisol levels and perhaps increasing oxytocin (the bonding hormone involved in relationships that make us feel good).
So what are someways to practice being more grateful?
1) Keep a gratitude journal. Everyday list several things that you are grateful for. It can be as simple as having a warm bed to sleep in, having food on the table, or just being grateful for being alive. Don’t be picky, appreciate everything.
2) Finding gratitude in your challenges. Look for the silver lining in tough times and be grateful for being a better person because of it.
3) Volunteer. Giving back to the community can be very satisfying and helping others in need will also help you appreciate the things you do have. Find a cause that you are passionate about and go out there and serve.
4) Spend time with loved ones. If you are struggling with feeling grateful for life and the things you have, spend more time with friends/family. Grow and foster those relationships. It’ll give you an opportunity to practice your acts of gratitude on your loved ones.