Thanksgiving is a day for food, family, and being thankful for the blessings in your life. But thankfulness should not be a yearly occurrence. Adopting a daily gratitude practice scientifically makes you healthier and happier. Over the past 20 years, researchers have found that making a habit of expressing gratitude can have physical and mental benefits.
A 2003 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology conducted a study in which every week one group wrote down their weekly gratitudes, one group wrote their weekly burdens, and the third group wrote a weekly neutral journal. After nine weeks, the group that practiced gratitude exercised up 40 minutes more each week, had an increased optimism by five percent or more and felt that life was better overall.
Some other benefits include:
Fewer aches and pains: This may be because people who practice gratitude also tend to take better care of their bodies, but a 2012 study published in Personality and Individual Differences recorded that people who practice gratitudes feel healthier.
Better social connections with other people: A 2014 study published in Emotion found that making gratitude a daily practice results in better social interactions with others, which helps make friends and strengthen connections.
Stronger resilience in dealing with negative life events: A 2006 study published in Behavior Research and Therapy found that Vietnam War veterans with a higher sense of gratitude experienced lower rates of PTSD, and a 2003 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that gratitude is one of the top contributes in increased resilience after 9/11.
Decreased feelings of envy and resentment and depression: Researcher Robert Emmons found that focusing on what makes you happy and thankful helps get rid of toxic emotions like envy and resentment, and many patients diagnosed with clinical depression have reported that practicing gratitude helps relieve some of those feelings.
Better sleep: According to 2011 study published in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being, writing reflecting on what you are thankful for at the end of the day results in longer, better sleep.
Improved Self-Esteem: A 2014 study published in the Journal of Applied Sport Psychology found that practicing gratitude increase players’ self-esteem and overall athletic performance
How do I practice gratitude?
People practice gratitude in their own ways. Some start a gratitude journal, and they write a list of items in their life that they feel thankful for right when they wake up or right before they go to sleep. Others go on gratitude walks where they actively look for things they are thankful for along the way to combine the positive effects of exercise and appreciation. Five minutes every day can have a powerful effect on your mental and physical wellbeing.
While you’re in the holiday spirit, make sure to check out the CSC Holiday cards.