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  • Writer's pictureKristen Drozda

Gratitude Helps To Improve Overall Well-being

More and more often through word of mouth, social media platforms, books and research studies gratitude and its benefits are being discussed. It sounds pretty simple and straight-forward, be thankful for what you have and give thanks to those around you. So what are the positive outcomes of gratitude on one’s overall well-being and how does one incorporate practicing gratitude in our daily lives? There have been numerous research studies completed and research journals written supporting the idea that practicing gratitude can benefit one’s mental health and physical health.

What is gratitude?

The word gratitude derived from the Latin word gratus, meaning pleasing and thankful and is defined as the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness. Psychology professor at the University of California, Robert Emmons, proposes that there are two critical components to gratitude. He explains that when practicing acts of gratitude we recognize that there are good things in the world and secondly, we realize that the sources of goodness come often from outside of ourselves. Emmons also reports that gratitude is a “relationship-strengthening emotion”, meaning that we learn to appreciate the gifts we have been given and then feel more motivated to return or repay those gifts.

Affect of Gratitude on overall Physical and Mental Well-being

There is extensive research that has being done that explains the scientific facts of how gratitude has benefited people’s health. Wendy Berry Mendes, professor at UC San Francisco’s findings explain that those who practice gratitude have lower blood pressure, low bad cholesterol and high good cholesterol levels. This may be a result of the positive effects of gratefulness, which lower stress levels. Other research studies indicate that those who participate in acts of gratefulness tend to have better heart health, less inflammation, healthier heart rhythms as well as better sleep. Studies completed where individuals kept journals about what they were grateful for showed a 25% reduction in dietary fat intake and a 23% drop the hormone cortisol (stress hormone).

On top of the physiological benefits, practicing acts of gratitude boost our mental health by reducing aggression and toxic emotions such as resentment, frustration, regret and envy. It allows us to notice, respond and reflect on happy and positive experiences that take place daily. Gratitude increases connection in relationships by expressing appreciation for each other and focusing on the positives, which reduces depression and increases our happiness.

How Do I practice Gratitude?

According to Forbes Magazine there are 8 ways to incorporate gratitude daily.

Don't be picky – appreciate everything: Find little things throughout your day to be thankful for such as having food to eat for meals, clothes on your back, a door being held opened for you or even for having the strength to make it through the day.Find gratitude in your challenges: Don't only look for positive experiences to be thankful for, be sure to also observe your challenges and dig deep to better understand how these experiences have helped you in your life.Practice mindfulness: Think about things you are thankful for and really visualize this, then notice the thoughts you have, the feelings you get and the sensations throughout your body. Mindfulness practice is completed by noticing what is happening in your surroundings, in your mind and within your body by using all 5 senses, then one is to put your observations into words to describe what you noticed. From there, you are to fully participate in the moment non-judgmentally.Keep a gratitude journal: record your positive thoughts and experiences! This allows you to reflect and appreciate the good moments you have had and keep track of them.Volunteer: Giving back to others naturally increases our happiness and inspires others to follow suit.Express yourself: Don't keep your appreciation and gratitude locked inside, share how you feel and what you are thankful for with those you surround yourself with.Spend time with loved ones: Practice acts of gratitude with your family and friends. Share what your appreciate about them.Improve your happiness in other areas of life: incorporate physical activity into your daily routine, start up an old hobby that has been put

aside or find a new activity to do that is pleasurable.

There you have it, by incorporating gratitude into your life there are many positive benefits to both your mental health and physical wellness. Get started today by creating a gratitude journal; writing a letter of appreciation to someone you care about or go volunteer your time then begin to notice the positive outcomes!

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