You know that warm fuzzy feeling when you are grateful to others? It turns out the health benefits of gratitude go beyond just a feel-good moment.
Being grateful for others and their gratitude for you can improve your emotional and physical health. From more satisfaction in your relationships to a reduced risk of stress-related illness, a greater sense of gratitude can be great for your health.
How The Health Benefits of Gratitude Improve Wellness
Researchers defined gratitude as “the appreciation of what is valuable and meaningful to oneself.” The benefits of gratitude have a positive effect on your overall health in several different ways.
A greater sense of gratitude has been associated with having a higher sense of self-esteem or well-being. Those with better self-esteem report feeling more optimistic. They’re also happier in their interpersonal relationships. These feelings of self-satisfaction and better relationships with others don’t just make you happier. They improve your ability to manage negative emotions.
When we perform an act of kindness for others, our bodies experience a rush of endorphins. Endorphins are feel-good chemicals in the brain responsible for those fuzzy feelings. Gratitude can literally change your mindset. Researchers find these increases in optimism help you live longer and reduce your risk for chronic illness.
This is because better emotional health helps prevent stress. Over time, stress can have a negative impact on your overall health. The following health issues are related to chronic stress:
- Decreased mobility
- Heart disease, especially coronary artery complications
- Insomnia or trouble sleeping
- Overeating and poor diet
- Problems with mental health, including depression and anxiety
Cultivate Gratitude in Daily Life
Since gratitude reduces stress and makes you feel good, you’ll probably want more ways to experience those positive feelings each day. Anyone can experience the health benefits of gratitude. Easy exercises inserted into your daily or weekly routine can help create more moments of gratitude.
Here are some ways to give and get more thanks:
- “Count Your Blessings” exercise. At the end of each week, write down three things you’re thankful for.
- Keep a gratitude journal. Go beyond counting your blessings and record even more things, people and events that you’re grateful for. Review your writings in moments where you need a boost of gratitude.
- Practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is not a religious practice. It uses meditation to ground yourself in the present moment. Practice sitting still with your eyes closed and clear your mind for a few minutes a day.
- Say thank you. It may seem obvious, but simply saying “thank you” to others can have a big impact.
- Send a thank you note. Not only does expressing gratitude help you feel it, but taking the time to send a note helps strengthen relationships. Healthier relationships boost emotional health and provide a solid support system in times of need.