A little gratitude can go a long way. There is increasing evidence that the benefits of gratitude don’t end with “feelings”, they extend to physiological measures, like lowered blood pressure, less anxiety and improved mood. Expressing gratefulness also improves interpersonal connections, which has its own set of health benefits.
The theory is that gratitude does 3 things. First, it highlights the good we have in our lives, second, it offsets negativity that we are exposed to, and finally, it connects us with others, strengthening our relationships. So, it essentially does the exact opposite of what stress does! In this way, the more grateful you feel, the less stress you experience. One study associated gratitude with a 23% decrease in levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. That in itself has far reaching implications to your overall health.
Grateful people tend to experience fewer aches and pains and they report feeling healthier than others. They are also more likely to take better care of their health, by exercising more, sleeping better and regularly seeing their doctor. They are more optimistic, have better mental resilience, a lower risk of depression and higher self- esteem.
There is no wrong way to show gratitude. Smile, be patient, be an active listener, always say thank you, give someone a hug, count your blessings or simply be mindful of all you have and all that is around you. Whenever you are expressing gratitude — in a journal, to yourself, or to others — make sure you include WHY you are grateful for it. This makes your gratitude even more intentional and powerful.
We all have the ability and opportunity to cultivate gratitude. Simply take a few moments to focus on all that you have – rather than complain about all the things you think you deserve. Developing an “attitude of gratitude” is one of the simplest ways to improve your satisfaction with life, and your overall well-being.
- UCDavis Health. Gratitude is good medicine. Practicing gratitude boosts emotional and physical well being
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- Lung Hung Chen & Chia-Huei Wu (2014) Gratitude Enhances Change in Athletes’ Self-Esteem: The Moderating Role of Trust in Coach, Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 26:3, 349-362, DOI: 10.1080/10413200.2014.889255
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