Especially at this time of the year, we stop to reflect upon what we are thankful for. But know that cultivating an attitude of gratitude can do more than make you happier! Adopting a grateful mindset as your default can also deliver both mental health and physical health benefits that can greatly improve your life.
Opt to maintain a positive attitude to:
CALM DOWN — Cultivating gratitude and other positive emotions can reduce stress hormones like cortisol by as much as 23%.1 A study of 400 people, 40% of whom had sleep disorders, shows making nightly lists of things they are grateful for can also improve the duration and quality of sleep.2
KEEP YOUR HEART HEALTHY — Recalling feelings of appreciation and listing things for which you’re grateful can protect your heart by decreasing blood pressure and lowering heart rate variability.3
SLIM DOWN — In a study of undergraduate students, those who were grateful were shown
to spend an average of 36% more time exercising per week—they also took better care of
their health overall.4
BOLSTER YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM — Gratitude is linked with optimism, which can improve the body’s immune response in certain situations, resulting in an increase in white blood cells needed to fight disease.5
LOWER RISK OF DEPRESSION — Scientists say that shifting your thinking from negative outcomes to positive ones elicit a surge of feel-good hormones like dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin, and help you build more enduring personal connections. These things, in turn, can help ward off depression.6
To reap the benefits, you first need to cultivate practices that will help you build your gratitude “muscle”! Here are three things to try, starting today:
- Keep a gratitude journal. All it requires is noting one or more things you are grateful for on a daily basis. You don’t need a fancy notebook to do this as it’s more about the ritual of writing down daily the positive things you appreciate.
- Replace negative self-talk with positive comments to condition yourself to be kind to yourself. Bashing yoiurself takes a toll on your health.
- Uplift someone else by doind something kind and notice how it impacts your energy and mood.
 The Impact of a New Emotional Self-Management Program on Stress, Emotions, Heart Rate Variability, DHEA, and Cortisol. Integrative Physiological and Behavioral Science. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9737736
 Effects of Constructive Worry, Image Distraction, and Gratitude Interventions on Sleep Quality: A Pilot Trial. Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being. http://psycnet.apa.org/index.cfm?fa=search.displayRecord&uid=2013-12591-004
 The Effects of Emotions on Short-Term Power Spectrum Analysis of Heart Rate Variability. The American Journal of Cardiology. https://www.heartmath.org/research/research-library/basic/effects-of-emotions-on-short-term-power-spectrum-analysis-of-hrv/
 Counting Blessings Versus Burdens. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12585811
 Optimism, Goal Conflict, and Stressor-related Immune Change. Journal of Behavioral Medicine.http://link.springer.com/article/10.1023/A:1012271410485
 Enhancing well-being and alleviating depressive symptoms with positive psychology interventions: A practice-friendly meta-analysis. Journal of Clinical Psychology.
~Thanks to Karen Malkin