If there’s one thing that has really helped me improve my overall health it is the daily practice of saying “thank you”. Gratitude is a powerful emotion that improves our health. Whether it’s promoting our immune system, decreasing stress hormones and the aging process, or improving your weight loss efforts, there are multitude of health benefits of gratitude. Even if this practice simply changes the way you look at things, you will benefit from experiencing it.
Below are the top 4 health benefits associated with gratitude. There are many more, but I’ve decided to condense most of them into the most popular. Keep these things in mind while starting this brand new year. You will truly benefit, and your health will thank you!
Improved Immune System
Time and time again, research shows that feelings of love, gratitude, and happiness increase immune system tremendously. Positive thinking isn’t just new age fluff any more – there is real science behind it.
One study comparing optimistic and pessimistic law students showed that by mid-semester the optimistic law students had a higher amount of helper T cells and a higher immune system response. It is also reported that those who do come down with colds, people who choose to be happy and positive experience less cold symptoms than those who don’t choose happiness. They also recover quickly, compared to others.
Increased Quality of Life
It’s no wonder that after listing the things you are grateful for, one by one, that you will slowly and effectively start feeling better about your life. Start right now by listing something you are grateful for, no matter how small, and let your mind think of something else, and then something else, and then something else. You will be surprised at how far you can go for all the wonderful things in your life.
The health benefits of gratitude include increased quality of life, as told by many researchers both past and present. You just can’t help but feeling happier and lighter when you truly feel blessed and grateful for the things you have right now. I truly believe that many psychiatrists and psychologists will benefit by incorporating gratitude exercises into their practices, especially with depressive individuals.
A study at York University in Toronto, Canada, determined that depressive subjects who kept a gratitude journal (against those who simply listened to upbeat music) received a higher boost in quality of life and relief of depression symptoms.
When you stop to feel grateful for your food before you eat, you mentally and emotionally slow down. You eat slowly and truly tastes the food and smell the aromas. The gratitude helps you to get in touch with your inner feeling of fullness; that is, by slowing down, you are better able to connect to your hunger and satiety signals. It takes at least 20 minutes for your brain to register that your stomach is full, so by being grateful, you are giving your body a great gift.
A University of California-Davis study showed that gratitude can help boost your inspiration and motivation to stick to a workout routine. Of many of the healthy benefits of gratitude, this is the most exciting to me. I don’t know about you, but it always seems challenging to start a workout. But once I’m in there, I feel good and want to keep going. Gratitude may be the answer for me to get over that hurdle so I can start taking care of myself more.
It’s no surprise that stress leads to a deterioration of health, both bodily health and mental health. Stress is the leading cause of heart disease, so anything we can do to reduce stress in our lives is important if we want to stay strong and healthy. Deep breathing, gratitude, and socializing with others can bring up your positive vibration and decrease the likelihood of heart disease. Laughing and smiling also go a long way in decrease stress hormones and increasing heart health and immune system response.
“If the only prayer you ever say is ‘thank you’, that is enough.” – Meister Eckhart
I hope you are beginning your new year in a healthy mindset. Eating healthy and exercise are fantastic ways to keep fit, but if your mind and emotions aren’t in the right place, then you’re only half there. True health lies in the whole body being healthy – mind, body, and emotions. Start a gratitude journal today, or simply list all the things you are grateful for right now, and keep the momentum going. You will be surprised at all the things you can find to be grateful for.
P.S. I am very grateful to all of you! 🙂
This is The Healthy Advocate