Giving thanks helps us to shift our focus to positive experiences and emotions. Gratitude is really good for the body and for your life in general. It doesn’t really matter what your method of thanksgiving is– you might decide to write down a few sentences in a gratitude journal or just take a moment to silently acknowledge what you have. Doing so can transform your life in a big way.
There are numerous benefits that we reap for being grateful. If you are looking for some motivation to be thankful in life, here are the top 5 ways in which gratitude benefits your body, mind, and soul:
1. Better Sleep
Numerous studies on the effects of gratitude have proven the same thing – that it significantly reduces the time it takes to fall asleep, improves the quality of sleep, and lengthens the duration of our sleep.
Usually, our brains go into overdrive just before bed. Scientists believe that focusing on the good actually helps you fall asleep faster and have a better quality of sleep. Grateful people are less likely to think negative and worrying thoughts but instead, think positive thoughts when they’re falling asleep. In other words, laying in bed thinking about awful things will most likely keep you up longer.
Sleep is one of the many vital things that are controlled by the hypothalamus. Gratitude activates the hypothalamus as well as the entire limbic system. When a person is grateful, it becomes very easy for them to fall into natural and healthy sleep.
Good sleep has a domino effect on a person’s life as it spreads the health benefits even further. For example, it boosts the person’s immune system causing them to become healthier overall.
2. Stress Relief
Gratitude is good for our nervous systems as it helps us to be more relaxed. Our everyday lives bring so much stress from the weight we carry around from work, financial strain, and other emotional disturbances. When we cultivate appreciation and count our blessing on a regular basis, it significantly reduces the pressure from building up and causing us stress.
When we are grateful in life, there is a decrease in cortisol which is the most prominent stress hormone. The direct result of this decrease is a reduction in stress levels.
That’s not all. Gratitude also helps us to cope with stress in better ways. We become more resilient to any stressful or traumatic events in our lives. A person who is more grateful will recover faster from trauma compared to a person who isn’t.
It’s worth noting that how we deal with stress has a huge impact on our well-being. Research has shown that grateful people have the psychological resources to cope with stress in a better way. They look for the positive in negative events, seeking help from others, smelling roses. On the other hand, people who are not grateful to deal with stress by disengaging, blaming themselves, being in denial, or abusing drugs.
3. Reduced Anxiety and Depression
Numerous studies on the benefit of gratitude have proven that gratitude increases your long-term happiness and ultimately acts as a counterweight to depression and anxiety. In the studies, it was found that patients suffering from anxiety and depression showed significant behavioral changes when embraced gratitude as part of their daily lives.
MRI scans indicated an increase in neural modulation brought about by changes in the medial prefrontal cortex. This helps the patients to manage any negative emotions such as guilt in a better way.
As we had seen earlier, gratitude has a profound effect on sleep. Improving the quality of sleep and the sleeping pattern for patients with depression helps to alleviate the depressive symptoms. This proves that gratitude leads to better sleep which in turn leads to reduced anxiety and depression; leading to the conclusion that sleep and reduced depression or anxiety are correlated.
4. A Healthier Heart and Brain
Gratitude is associated with a stronger immune system and, therefore, less inflammation. Inflammation is believed to speed up the progression of heart failure. Not only does gratitude minimize inflammation but also causes your heart to have healthy rhythms.
Writing down what you’re grateful for keeps your heart healthy and helps you stay away from symptoms such as fatigue and shortness of breath.Gratitude basically functions in a protective fashion in the human body improves a person’s physical health. Click To Tweet
5. Increased Energy and Vitality
Cultivating gratitude by helping others and appreciating the positive things in your life makes us more optimistic and that in itself boosts our vitality. Studies on the benefits of research have repeatedly shown that thankful people have higher energy levels, are more relaxed, are happier and are healthier.
It doesn’t really matter if gratitude makes us healthier due to the power of positivity, or if the dopamine in our brains sets off a chain reaction that ignites the benefits of gratitude. Every study done on the subject of gratitude research has undisputable evidence that gratitude benefits our bodies, minds, and souls. Naturally, these gratitude benefits lead us to the conclusion that being grateful has the potential to increase our vitality and ultimately lengthen our lifespan.
It may seem like a simple thing but gratitude is a skill that needs to be cultivated with intention. It’s not easy to train the brain to only be aware of the positives in the world especially when you are going through difficult times. However, doing so makes you less vulnerable to distress and therefore improves your psychological well-being. Maybe the reason you feel that you don’t have much to be grateful for is that you aren’t saying thank you enough.
With all the benefits of gratitude that we have talked about, it doesn’t come as a surprise that showing appreciation is good for your mental and physical health in more ways than one. Although you don’t really need an excuse to add more kindness to the world, the fact that gratitude is healthy is definitely something to be thankful for.