Practicing gratitude is not just saying ‘thank you’ when someone opens a door for you. Feeling gratitude for all positive aspects in your life is a great way to shift your perspective from any problems and imperfections, and help you appreciate the little things.
Taking some time to be thankful for your health, friends, family, or job can all help you change your perspective, especially in challenging times. Practicing gratitude can bring a wealth of benefits to your day to day life.
Here are 6 of the best benefits practicing gratitude can have on your life:
1. Practicing gratitude relieves stress
Anything that relieves stress is going to be beneficial not only to your mental health, but also your physical health too. Did you know that increased stress levels can affect things like your cardiovascular and nervous systems? By taking some time to feel grateful just once a week, you can reduce stress and studies have actually shown that this can reduce blood pressure. Take this one step further and write down everything you have to be grateful for, and you can reduce blood pressure by 10%. Another study in 1998 proved that the stress hormone cortisol can be reduced by practicing gratitude, and can also make you more resilient to trauma.
2. Practicing gratitude improves brain power
Research on gratitude in 2009 showed that the part of the brain that regulates our bodily functions, the hypothalamus, is activated when we feel gratitude. This means processes like sleep, metabolism, temperature regulation and appetites are literally powered by thoughts of gratitude and acts of kindness! Gratitude also affects our brain by releasing the feel good hormone dopamine. This natural high can make acts of kindness feel addictive and motivates us to practice gratitude further, be thankful, and be kind to others.
3. Practicing gratitude helps us sleep better
We’re all always looking for hacks for a better night’s sleep, and practicing gratitude could be the answer. There are loads of studies that have shown how being grateful can help increase our sleep quality, as well as sleep duration and helps us fall asleep faster. As gratitude activates our hypothalamus, which is the part of the brain that controls our sleep. When we are thankful, we can fall asleep quicker and for longer, meaning we wake up feeling refreshed and rejuvenated! Better sleep can increase our general health and relieve stress, pain and anxiety as well as boost our immune system.
4. Practicing gratitude reduces anxiety
As mentioned, being thankful can help us get a better night’s sleep, which in turn can help to relieve anxiety. But did you know that keeping a journal of gratitude, or even saying ‘thank you’ more often can increase long-term happiness by over 10%, and reduce depression by over 30%? This is because we’re better able to manage emotions such as sadness and guilt when we feel helpful and kind.
5. Practicing gratitude decreases pain levels
This one can be hard to believe, but being thankful can actually reduce physical pain levels. A study in 2003 showed that patients with physical symptoms who kept a gratitude journal actually showed reduced symptoms as well as a decrease in pain. This could be due to the increase in dopamine when we’re thankful.
6. Practicing gratitude increases our energy
There’s a lot of health benefits to being a little thankful, so it’s no surprise that you’ll notice an increase in energy alongside the other benefits. Longer and better sleep, reduced stress and generally feeling optimistic can make us feel more sprightly and energetic - and more likely to get up and moving.
By Amy Cavill
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