The Tangible Benefits of Giving Thanks
by Alexis Ramirez, School-based Therapy Program Manager
Did you know that there are scientifically proven benefits to expressing gratitude? Studies have linked gratitude to better sleep and lower blood pressure. Additionally, grateful people are also more likely to exercise and to attend regular health check-ups. When we work to replace negative emotions like frustration and regret with thoughts of gratitude, we feel happier and less stressed. Individuals who are grateful experience fewer aches and pains and report feeling healthier overall.
We have learned that gratitude activates the part of our brain that regulates a number of our body's functions, including our appetite, sleep, temperature, metabolism and growth. Our mind is very much connected to our physical wellbeing... when we take care of our mind, through the focus of positivity, those benefits are passed down to our body.
Here are a few easy ways to incorporate gratitude into your everyday life:
- Start a gratitude journal and set aside some time each week to write down the things you are grateful for.
- Try out a gratitude guided meditation on YouTube
- Write a hand-written letter to a person you are particularly grateful to have in your life.
Complete the “Greater Good at Berkeley Quiz”- This 20-item questionnaire will provide you with ideas on how to promote further gratitude in life.
- If you are religious, incorporate your gratitude in prayer.
- Download one of the many available gratitude apps on your smartphone.
Just a few minutes a day focused on the things that make our life better can have lasting benefits on our mental and physical health. Consistency is the key to incorporating gratitude into our life and is most impactful when we find time to incorporate it into each day.
It is normal for us all to feel down at times in our lives and practicing gratitude doesn’t mean you are not going to have tough days. In the midst of the hardships related to the COVID-19 pandemic, there will continue to be days where gratitude is the last thing on our mind. Allow yourself to be human, challenge yourself on the bad days to continue to practice gratitude, while also honoring the difficulties you are facing. It is often in the midst of life’s challenges that we have the most to gain from a grateful perspective. Gratitude can energize us to push through and ground us in hope.
You deserve a few minutes a day to focus on positivity. Give gratitude a try!