Can being grateful actually make you healthier? Several studies say yes. In fact, there is a great deal of evidence that shows being thankful benefits your health both physically and mentally. Researchers have found that an attitude of gratitude helps you have a stronger immune system, a healthier heart, more energy, and a happier outlook on life.
When you are grateful, just like any other emotion, it affects your outlook. Gratitude is particularly powerful when used as a way of viewing the world, of interpreting and perceiving your life. There are other positive emotions that come attached to gratitude and these work in the body to provide powerful physical health benefits.
According to research, the simple act of thinking about the things you are grateful for, causes the parasympathetic nervous system, the part that promotes calm and peaceful feelings, to be triggered. This can cause chemical reactions such as increasing oxytocin (the hormone that helps with bonding in relationships and increases good feelings) while decreasing cortisol (the stress hormone that can cause a variety of health issues).
Several studies have been done over the past few years exploring the connection between gratitude and health. One study published in the European Scientific Journal in June 2017, drew direct line between gratitude and coping with PTSD. It found that the more gratitude increases in a person the less psychological distress decreases. A research report published in June 2017, found that gratitude could be a viable means of helping ease fibromyalgia symptoms. In
The American Heart Association published information on a study that was conducted on heart patients who had asymptomatic heart failure. The researchers measured evaluated their levels of gratitude and found that the patients who were more grateful slept better, experienced less anxiety, and had decreased depression. These people also had healthier hearts and lower levels of inflammation. The lower levels of inflammation, as well as a more positive outlook, also help patients better manage pain.
Even if gratitude does not come naturally to you, it is possible to learn it. It can become a habit that can be cultivated and incorporated into everyday life. Try these tips for developing gratefulness in your life.
1. Think about being grateful. The more you think about it, the more you will find that you are grateful.
2. Avoid comparing up. There will always be someone who has more than you do or is more advantaged. Seeking them out and ruminating on what you don’t have or don’t have enough of is a recipe for discontent, anger, and frustration.
3. Keep a gratitude journal and write down the things you are thankful for. This will not only serve as a reminder, but it will also help to develop the habit of being grateful.
4. If you don’t think you have anything to be grateful for, find just one thing and focus on that. Gradually add things you are grateful for and you will find them.
5. Change your perspective. When something doesn’t go your way, look for the positives in it. This can be internal or external. How did you grow? What did you gain?
6. Change your thinking. Choose positive language and banish negative language from your vocabulary. Don’t allow negativity to color your life experiences. Choose to be happy and maintain a positive outlook.
7. Say it out loud. Use your voice and tell people that you are grateful. Tell them you appreciate them, that you are grateful for things. Let yourself hear your positive words of gratitude so that they can take hold of you and become a part of who you are.
Being thankful makes you a healthier, happier person, so take some time to find several things that you’re grateful for (or a lot!). You’ll love the benefits.
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The information herein on "Being Grateful Benefits Health" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional, or licensed physician, and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make your own healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.
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Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, CCST, IFMCP*, CIFM*, ATN*
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Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, CIFM*, IFMCP*, ATN*, CCST
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