The Health Benefits of Gratitude

Did you know? Being GRATEFUL has numerous benefits. I am going to touch on those benefits for you to see how you are implementing gratitude in your own life. 

Gratitude has been known to help individuals build connections to others, increase optimism, helps increase happiness and increases resiliency. There are also a variety of benefits on HEALTH that I wanted to share with you! 

6 Health Benefits of Gratitude

1. Lowers Blood Pressure

The calming influence of gratitude can lower blood pressure. You don't even need to have a daily practice to receive the benefits! Just doing so once a week resulted in a significant decrease in systolic blood pressure for participants in a 10-week study. The group that implemented gratitude were less hostile and had more healthy habits. 

2. Decreases Risks for Depression

Gratitude increases happiness and decreases the risks for depression, increases your resiliency to stressors and is considered a protective factor against both anxiety and depression, as gratitude increases dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin, the feel-good transmitters!

3. Inflammation Reduction

Long term, or chronic, inflammation is detrimental to our health but gratitude can lower inflammation! Control studies that looked at heart symptoms over 8 weeks showed inflammatory markers were lower in those that practiced gratitude. 

4. Improves Sleep

Gratitude helps us to sleep better, even without a conscious gratitude practice. Studies show that those with the gratitude practices had more quality sleep and less fatigue, as well as getting to sleep faster! 

5. Lowering Stress

Stress is reduced with re-framing and gratitude! Stress has a significant negative impact on our health, as it is harmful to hormonal health, gut health and overall health. Stress hormones like cortisol are 32% less in those that practice gratitude. 

6. Builds Immune Response

When you are reducing inflammation, improving sleep and lowering stress, your immune system is stronger! Studies surveying first year law students found that optimistic students had higher fighter cells and a greater immune response with gratitude!

When these elements improve, sleep and lowered stress, less inflammation and depression, many people improve other areas of their life by default. They feel better and make better choices, like adding in exercise, nutritious foods and avoiding unhealthy behaviors like drinking and smoking. Adding gratitude into your routine has a lot of significant payouts on your health! Even if you are not doing something every day, find ways to implement gratitude regularly. 

Some easy tips for adding in gratitude can be sharing appreciation for others, write thank you notes, reflect on your day either in thoughts or journaling, Or just taking time adding in gratitude to something you are already doing keeps it easy- what are some positives about your day? Reflect on your day in the shower or laying in bed before you fall asleep. Or start your day with a cup of coffee and the positives about the day ahead. However you add it in, keep doing it! The benefits are well-worth it!

Do you have some gratitude tips?

A Time for Gratitude...

Today is the day after Thanksgiving here in the states. Thanksgiving is an interesting day, if you think about it. 

It began as a day of giving thanks for the blessings of the harvest and of the preceding year. It is commonly known as a way to commemorate the Pilgrim's harvest meal that they shared with the Indians. Even though there are questions about the true intent of this meal, the celebration still comes back to the act of giving thanks. Christians often view it as a day set apart to give thanks to God and being especially thankful to Him. 

Why I think it is "interesting" as I first started out saying is that the dynamics and traditions that often correlate with Thanksgiving festivities is often with a lack of gratitude. It is the family that despises getting together because of the stress and dynamics between one another. It is the gluttony that many experience, which is more of a hoarding and selfish behavior. (Think of your cousin who would tackle you to make sure he gets the last piece of pumpkin pie.) It is a time that people overspend, starting with all the food and decorations that then moves straight into Black Friday. The stress of finances is often very real for many, despite their festivities to celebrate. Then there is the alcohol. It is often free-flowing early, starting with mimosas with breakfast and just continuing on throughout the day. The rowdy behaviors and drunken attitudes can be overtaking of what might be otherwise a pleasant family event. Having to drag your husband home early because of all the embarrassing things he says is not a fun end to a family event. 

Yet, there are many who do still enjoy this time of year. The family that is close, all ships in and helps prepare and clean up and don't stress about the money. Playing games, watching movies, taking walks and laughter area always a good sign of family cohesiveness. 

My family is somewhere in the middle. We hang out but sometimes don't know what to do. It is a nice time but not always the most exciting or fun. The food is good, but the day can have stresses. There are no drunken stupors or disrespectful guests but our time is also low key. Nap-worthy, if you will. 

Why do I share this information with you? I am thinking about relationships. Which are tricky and sometimes messy and even gross at times. They are difficult to navigate. And when we are thrown into the expectations of what Thanksgiving, or any other event like it, "SHOULD" be, I think we feel like we are doing something wrong. We feel less than. I mean, why does all the dysfunction in the families make an appearance? Well, we are people. And when people get together, messes happen. 

Relationships are funny. How we engage with people, what we tolerate, why certain people are- or are not- a part of our celebration and what our expectations are become more highlighted when we are all together. Or should be. Even the dysfunction that we don't always want, we may crave when the holidays roll around. Sometimes it is a good awareness of how content we truly are- or aren't. 

I am drawn to my family of origin when I think of the holidays. The good times not only as a kid, but memories of my parents. The realization that they are not present to celebrate with me and those moments that I think how much my mom or dad would like this or laugh at that. I think of my brothers who are disconnected and other family that I really don't have very close ties to. I wonder what a celebration might look like if.... 

I have the tendency to let my thoughts go wild... taking away the joy in the present moments, if I let them. Rather, I attempt to focus on what I am content with... So, instead of feeling sad and disconnected that my dad is not here with us, I can think how proud he would be to know... or how my mom would be so proud that... 

When it comes to feeling grateful, this time of year can be a challenge. I believe many people have a wrong outlook, letting their current feelings about a situation rule them, instead of focusing on what they DO have, not just in that moment. It used to be believed that suicide rates increased around the holidays but that is actually not true. The month with the highest rates is typically January, which is AFTER the holidays. This information tells me that people thrive with the human connection that we all desire is more present, regardless of the dysfunction that also might be present. 

We often hear about GRATITUDE and how important it is in our lives. I believe that it is very true that we need to be intentional about the ways we choose to look at our circumstances and the people in our lives. Especially if we have experienced changes in our life, whether positive or negative, that help us to better appreciate the current circumstances. Gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness and helps people to feel more positive emotions, improve their health, deal with adversity, build stronger relationships and relish in those good experiences easier. 

How are you implementing more GRATITUDE in your life, not just during the holidays, but everyday?!

-->Have you learned about the benefits that Gratitude has on your health? Stay tuned and I will share more with you! 

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