An Attitude of Gratitude Can Help You Physically and Mentally

Taking time to give thanks every day – not just on Thanksgiving – may improve your physical and mental health.

While life’s challenges can sometimes seem overwhelming, finding things to be grateful for every day can improve your mood, sleep, self-esteem, patience, mental strength, resilience and empathy. You’ll also decrease your feelings of aggression, envy, resentment, frustration and regret. And showing others gratitude by saying “thank you,” can help you make more friends and improve relationships.

According to a recent Time Magazine article, there is another theory that gratitude may stop you from overeating – although don’t expect that to work on Thanksgiving Day when the dinner table is laden with delicious dishes. A Today Show segment reports that the author of a study from the University of California San Diego’s School of Medicine on gratitude said those who keep a gratitude journal reduced their fat intake by as much as 25 percent, probably due to lower stress levels.

The study also found that those who are more grateful had better heart health with less inflammation and healthier heart rhythms. People who are grateful are more optimistic and studies at two other universities found that stressed out law students who considered themselves optimistic actually had more disease-fighting cells in their bodies. A 2012 study found that grateful people have fewer aches and pains and report feeling healthier than other people.

Here’s how we can we incorporate giving thanks into our daily lives:

  • Take a moment before falling asleep to recall only the good things that happened that day.
  • Make a list of positive things in your life that you normally take for granted.
  • Keep a gratitude journal.
  • Think about people, events or circumstances in your life and imagine how your life would be less without them.
  • Take the time to tell people “thank you.”
  • Get rid of ungrateful thoughts that create negative feelings. Replace them with thankful thoughts.
  • Stop comparing yourself, those you love and your life situation to others.
  • Stop complaining about things, instead be positive.
  • Find things that you appreciate.
  • Send thank-you notes. Texts, emails and voicemails are nice, but a handwritten note takes the prize.
  • Give back to your community and friends.
  • Make a promise to yourself to practice gratitude.

There may be times when gratitude is not enough and you will need the help of a healthcare provider or mental health specialist. If so, be sure to go to the California Department of Consumer Affairs website to check their license before making an appointment.

Remember, if you make gratitude your attitude, you may find that every day is Thanksgiving.

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