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How gratitude improves your body and brain

gratitude is good for your mind and body

Article at a glance

  • Gratitude has several advantages, including improved mental health and wellbeing.
  • Regular practice has been proven to provide substantial health benefits.
  • If you’re seeking to start practising gratitude frequently, there are lots of beneficial tasks to help you integrate it into your everyday life.

Gratitude has several advantages, including improved mental health and wellbeing.

For various individuals, thankfulness may signify different things. Gratitude practice can take numerous forms, ranging from daily writing to nightly prayers.

Continue reading to learn about the advantages of daily thankfulness practice and how to get started.

What does it mean to be grateful?

What exactly does it mean to be grateful?

The state of being appreciative is simply defined as gratitude. It entails expressing gratitude or thanks for anything, ranging from gifts to life itself. Gratitude entails appreciating the good things in life and how they affect you. This might be anything from seeing a lovely flower on the sidewalk to the gratitude that comes with recovering from a devastating disease.


You can express thankfulness in a variety of ways, including:

  • Journaling and thankfulness exercises.
  • Seeing the little details in life, such as the birds in the trees.
  • Expressing gratitude for someone or whatever they did, even if it was a long time ago.
  • To show your thanks, do something nice for someone in your life.
  • Reflecting on the good things in your life
The benefits of gratitude

The Benefits of Being Grateful

Practising appreciation has several mental and physical advantages. Regular practice has been proven to provide substantial health benefits. [1] See below a range of ways gratitude can boost your health:


  • Immune System Boosting

Gratitude has been demonstrated to lead to a sense of overall happiness. According to a scientific review, stress decreases the immune response to possible physiological threats, but greater mental wellbeing can assist your body fight sickness. [2] Gratitude can also help with other elements of physical health, according to one 2017 study, which found that it can lessen the chances of heart failure. [3]


  • Benefits For Mental Health

Gratitude is only one of the numerous variables that contribute to good mental health. According to a study published in 2020, expressing thankfulness on a regular basis might help alleviate anxiety and depression  symptoms. [4] Another study found a correlation between appreciation and a better mood. When done on a regular basis, practising thankfulness generates pleasant sentiments and can contribute to a sense of wellbeing.


  • Better Relationships

Gratitude may help you enhance your relationships [5] as well as your physical and emotional health. Gratitude is essential in the formation of new connections as well as the strengthening of old ones. Gratitude might make couples feel more happy with one another in love relationships. According to a 2010 study [6], spouses who expressed thanks to one another reported higher relationship satisfaction and pleasure the next day.


  • Encourage Optimism

According to a 2019 study [7] , being positive has several health advantages, including good ageing. According to a 2018 study [8] , gratitude practice might help you build an optimistic mindset if you're not typically optimistic. Participants in another study felt more hopeful and enthusiastic about their current lives and the future after just 10 weeks of frequent thankfulness practice.

How to Begin a Gratitude Practice

If you’re seeking to start practising gratitude frequently, there are lots of beneficial tasks to help you integrate it into your everyday life. [9]

Journaling

Gratitude journaling

Gratitude journaling is a strategy that entails maintaining a daily notebook of things for which you are grateful. This is one of the most popular thankfulness exercises. Recounting a favourite experience from the day, explaining a significant person in your life, or list five things you're grateful for that day are all wonderful places to start. It's not even necessary to have a physical diary. It might be as basic as a phone note. This makes it easy to jot down something you're grateful for right now. 

Mapping

grateful practice

For visual learners, gratitude mapping is ideal. It entails making a visual mood board of all the things you're thankful for. You then hang this board someplace in your house as a daily reminder to be grateful.

Gratitude Jars

keep a gratitude jar

Gratitude jars are a basic concept that is straightforward to implement. Write down anything nice that happens to you or for which you are grateful on a sheet of paper and place it in a jar. Give the jar a good shake the next time you're feeling low and pluck out one slip of paper. This strategy will remind you of something positive in your life to be grateful for. It can help you remember little joys that you may have forgotten otherwise.

Meditation

Gratitude may be included into a morning meditation practice. You can choose to concentrate on things for which you are thankful, or you may find it simpler to meditate on how you arrived at this point. To do so, consider your prior experiences, both good and unpleasant. Consider how far you've progressed since then. This helps you appreciate what has got you to this place by putting the present into context and allowing you to see it clearly. The greatest time to practice gratitude meditation is in the morning, since it sets you up for the day with a positive mindset. It's also a good idea to utilise your practice as a means to unwind before going to bed. 

Spiritual Thanks

spiritual prayer helps us be grateful

Whatever your religious beliefs, prayer may be a powerful technique for cultivating thankfulness. It's also related to a better quality of life. A powerful method to inspire a sense of wonder and appreciation is to express thanks to a higher power or simply to the cosmos. You may thank God for the world you live in, the air you breathe, and the body that transports you from point A to point B when you pray. Prayer is an opportunity to be amazed by life and the miracle of its existence. It doesn't have to be tied to a certain religion or culture; it can simply be a means of expressing gratitude for being alive.

Volunteering

volunteer and be grateful

Volunteering is an excellent way to express thanks in a practical way. Aiding others in need might cause you to think about your own situation and develop compassion for mankind as a whole. It has also been demonstrated to promote health and provide a variety of additional advantages.

 

Reflection

Practising thankfulness [10] on a regular basis may be good for both physical and mental health. It also has the potential to be beneficial to relationships. 

You might begin a gratitude practice by practising meditation, writing, or just paying attention to the small pleasures in life. Gratitude, if practised on a daily basis, will almost certainly have a good long-term impact on your mental health and well-being.

References:

[1] The Benefits of Gratitude and How to Get Started

[2] Positive health: connecting well-being with biology

[3] A pilot randomized study of a gratitude journaling intervention on HRV and inflammatory biomarkers in Stage B heart failure patients

[4] Gratitude Interventions: Effective Self-help? A Meta-analysis of the Impact on Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety

[5] GRATITUDE AND HAPPINESS: DEVELOPMENT OF A MEASURE OF GRATITUDE, AND RELATIONSHIPS WITH SUBJECTIVE WELL-BEING

[6] It's the little things: Everyday gratitude as a booster shot for romantic relationships.

[7] Optimism and Healthy Aging in Women and Men

[8] Strengths in older adults: differential effect of savoring, gratitude and optimism on well-being

[9] Counting Blessings Versus Burdens: An Experimental Investigation of Gratitude and Subjective Well-Being in Daily Life

[10] The Benefits of Gratitude and How to Get Started