Did you know… recent studies have shown that showing gratitude throughout your daily life is actually good for your total health. This means that it’s CRUCIAL to practice gratitude. And not only throughout the holidays but in each and every day of our lives.
Studies have shown that a positive attitude and grateful spirit can actually lower blood pressure, improve immune function and facilitate more sleep (if only it came in pill form, right?!). It has also been found that those who practice gratitude on a daily basis have stronger, healthier hearts, mostly due to a decrease in stress and fatigue.
It would seem that gratitude has the exact opposite effect as that of stress.
You see, when you perceive positivity and focus your energy on what you appreciate most, the calming section of your nervous system is triggered. When this happens, cortisol levels drop and oxytocin (the feel-good hormone) increases. At the same time that you begin to feel happier, you subsequently prevent yourself from exhausting your adrenals and hindering your immune system. More gratitude = a stronger immune system.
For me personally, when I think of times that I am extremely thankful for those around me, I feel genuinely happy, relaxed, and humbled. I feel more connected with myself and those around me.
So how can you and I practice being grateful more often?
It can be as simple as taking the time each day to think about a couple items that you are grateful for. For starters, when I am driving my kids somewhere, we go around and list one or two things that are currently making us feel thankful. They can be small, minuscule things, but still very important to be recognized. If need be, you could even keep a gratitude journal with you or by your bed (look for gratitude apps on your phone, too!). Studies have shown that keeping a gratitude journal helps reduce cortisol, the stress hormone, and can even have positive anti-aging effects on the brain.
Here are 7 scientifically proven benefits of gratitude:
- Improves physical health
- Improves psychological health
- Promotes better sleep
- Improves self-esteem
- Enhances empathy and reduces aggressive behavior
- Increases mental strength
- Improves relationships
A friend of mine, the Holistic Mom, MD, Dr. Madiha Saeed, has taught her sons the cutest song ever about gratitude:
This goes to show, no one is EVER too young to learn about being grateful.
Now, I understand gratitude isn’t something that comes naturally to everyone and can take a little practice. If you have a difficult time showing more gratitude, fortunately, this is something that can be learned and become more accustomed to.
The biggest takeaway I hope you gain from this is that we all have something to be grateful for, big or small. It could be family, friends, career, the food on the table, or even the roof over our head. There is always something to be thankful for and I encourage you to find something each and every day that you appreciate and focus on it.
Then, if you kept a journal, go back one month and reflect on what you wrote and how you feel now. Trust me, this practice will not let you down!
So, what do you say? Ready to start? Leave us a comment with one thing you’re most grateful for today. Your turn!
P.S. Don’t forget to subscribe to my podcast, Get Well with Dr. Shel, on iTunes!