Health Benefits of Gratitude
Can Being Grateful Help You Become Healthier?
Thanks to Thanksgiving, November is a time when more people stop to reflect about the things they’re grateful for in their lives. Being grateful is an excellent mindset to develop, but you don’t have to wait for fall to add more gratitude into your life.
There are scientifically proven benefits of gratitude, too. Keep reading to learn more about the health benefits of gratitude, plus some tips for starting your own personal gratitude practice.
Exploring the health benefits of gratitude
Being grateful has a number of health benefits
, as outlined in this article from the Positive Psychology Program. Some of the most surprising and wonderful benefits include:
- Blood pressure reduction. A 1977 study of patients with hypertension who “counted their blessings” at least once per week showed significant decreases in blood pressure when compared to those who didn’t practice the same gratefulness routine.
- Improved sleep health. In 2016, researchers conducted a two week “gratitude intervention” and found that sleep quality increased amongst participants.
- Enhanced psychological well-being. In 2017, researcher Chih-Che Lin found that high levels of gratitude have a strong positive impact on psychological well-being, self-esteem, and depression.
- An increased affinity for exercising. Being grateful won’t lead directly to weight loss, but a 2003 study showed that participants who practiced gratitude regularly for 11 weeks were more likely to exercise than those in the control group who were not practicing gratitude.
How to begin practicing gratitude
The action of practicing gratitude might sound simple and straightforward, but it’s something we often forget to do as we hurry about our busy lives. That’s why you should mindfully practice gratitude, even going so far as to make yourself a plan for how you’ll be more grateful each and every day.
Consider scheduling some of these activities into your calendar:
- Do some gratitude journaling. You can do this in your everyday journal or notebook, or start a new notebook just for this purpose. Write about the things, people, and places that you’re thankful for, and don’t forget about the seemingly small moments.
- Create a gratitude jar. Each day, take a small piece of paper and write down something that makes you happy or that you’re grateful for. When you’re feeling down, pull out a few pieces of paper and read them for an instant mood boost.
- Make some grateful phone calls. Are there any people in your life that you feel grateful toward? Don’t hold it in. Let them know with a simple phone call or handwritten note.
- Thank someone, even if it’s just in your head. The act of acknowledging your gratitude has serious health benefits, and it doesn’t always require writing something down or speaking to someone directly.
- Make a list of things you’re grateful for, right now. Why wait to get started? As soon as you’re done reading, make a list of all the minor and major things that fill your heart with gratitude.