Nov 30 2014

How Gratitude Affects Your Health

Published by at 11:12 am under General

Be thankful all year long.   Research shows it’s good for your health.

 

‘Tis the season to be thankful, for all that we have, know, experience, see, enjoy, love and cherish. But what if we extended that gratefulness beyond one holiday and promised ourselves to be grateful all year long? How often do you sit down and really appreciate all the good things, small and large, material and immaterial that fill your life with goodness and joy? Researchers are finding that extending your thankfulness to every season throughout the year, not just the holiday season, can actually have health benefits. By feeling and expressing gratitude in our daily lives, we can enjoy lower stress levels, an increased immune system and overall elevated health and well being!1 So instead of looking at the glass half empty, start counting your blessings daily

The connection between gratitude and health is not a new concept…””Thousands of years of literature talk about the benefits of cultivating gratefulness as a virtue,” says University of California Davis psychology professor Robert Emmons. For centuries, philosophers and religious leaders have extolled gratitude as a virtue at the core of good health and well-being.  There is even a movement called Positive Psychology in which, mental health professionals are examining the relationship between gratitude and positive health benefits.1

People who express gratitude as a permanent trait have an advantage over those who exist in a more negative state of mind. According to Emmons’ research on gratitude, “Grateful people take better care of themselves and engage in more protective health behaviors like regular exercise, a healthy diet, regular physical examinations.”1

With being grateful, comes optimism. This is a characteristic that researchers say boosts the  immune system. “There are some very interesting studies linking optimism to better immune function,” says Lisa Aspinwall, PhD, a psychology professor at the University of Utah. In one, researchers compared the immune systems of healthy, first-year law students who were under stress. Those students who were considered optimistic (based on survey responses) maintained a higher number of blood cells that protect the immune system, compared with their more pessimistic classmates.1

Additional findings suggest that grateful people may be more likely to:

  • have improved mental alertness
  • schedule regular physical examinations with their doctor
  • cope better with stress and daily challenges
  • feel happier and more optimistic
  • avoid problematic physical symptoms
  • have stronger immune systems
  • maintain a brighter view of the future
  • get more regular exercise
  • eat a healthier diet2

Exercise to be more grateful? These researchers found that shifting one’s attitude can make a big difference. For example, people often feel that if they just had more wealth, they would be happier. But they found “… that it’s not how much you have, but how you feel about what you have that makes the difference…”2   Additionally, reframing challenging situations can make a difference.  Instead of complaining about a door that has been closed on you, look at how that may lead to a new door opening as a result. Giving to others, donating your time, writing thank you notes, saying thank you, reaching out to strangers and friends and smiling are all ways to feel more grateful and to give thanks to others and the universe.

This Thanksgiving, we are truly grateful for you, our customers and readers. You are the reason we are here and that is something for which we give thanks every day. We hope you are enjoying the fun and joyful spirit of the upcoming the holiday season. Feel the joy and happiness surrounding you and have a very happy holiday!

With warmest wishes,

Kelli and all of us at Body Biotics

 

Resources

  1. http://www.webmd.com/women/features/gratitute-health-boost
  2. http://www.healthline.com/health/depression/giving-thanks

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