By Donna Cardillo
Practicing gratitude has been clinically proven to have a profound and positive impact on a person’s health and quality of life — and it’s free! No co-pays, no time spent at appointments, no needles, no prescriptions. However, the fast-paced lifestyle that many of us have become accustomed to makes practicing gratitude difficult if we do not make a concerted effort to work it into our daily routines.
Gratitude is appreciating the things that are meaningful to each of us as individuals. And since improved health is certainly something to be grateful for, if you aren’t already on the daily gratitude bandwagon, now’s the time start!
5 Health Benefits of Practicing Gratitude
According to gratitude expert Robert A. Emmons from the University of California, Davis, the health benefits of practicing gratitude include:
1. Lowers Blood Pressure
Some studies have indicated there is a parasympathetic response when gratitude journaling, which slows the heart rate and in turn reduces blood pressure.
2. Improves Your Sleep and Reduces Daily Fatigue
Sleep improves especially when practicing gratitude right before bed. As you drift off to sleep in a more relaxed state your body will reap the benefits. Better sleep leads to less fatigue during the day.
3. Decreases Depression
Some studies state that the regular practice of gratitude reduces cortisol (the stress hormone) levels by up to 23% which in turn reduces a person’s lifetime risk of depression.
4. Living a Happier and Healthier Existence
Some studies report increased exercise and better eating habits in those who practice daily gratitude which overall leads to a happier and healthier life.
5. Improves Self-esteem and Mental Clarity
As we feel healthier and happier, enhanced self-esteem and improved mental clarity in day-to-day activities increases.
5 Ways to Incorporate the Practice of Gratitude Into Your Life
1. Start Your Day Being Grateful for a Person or Thing
The practice of gratitude before your feet hit the floor in the morning can help you start your day off with a positive vibe. You can be grateful for something as simple as a new day.
2. Implement Daily Meditation
Meditation is another way to focus on positive thoughts. With each slow inhalation followed by each slow exhalation, remain in the moment and focus on being grateful for what you have.
3. Create a Gratitude Jar
A gratitude jar is a great way to get the family involved in the practice of gratitude with each person dropping a note in the jar every day. After all, gratitude can be learned, so helping kids (and adults) incorporate this into their lives will not only have an impact on the individual’s health but on the health of the family as a whole. Create a tradition where you read the notes in the jar and stick to it every year.
4. Commit to Evening Journaling
Each night before bed consider writing a few things you’re grateful for. You can use a traditional journal or consider exploring one of the many electronic apps available today.
5. Write a Gratitude Letter
Think of people throughout your life who have had a major influence on you. Consider athletic coaches, local librarians, a former boss, a special mentor, and take the time to thank them. You don’t even have to mail the letters for the practice to be effective. Expressing your thanks in writing, even privately, does the trick.
Embracing an Attitude of Gratitude
Developing an “attitude of gratitude” approach to life is sure to help you be resilient even in the toughest of times. The more satisfied you are with your life the more likely you are to be healthy and give off positive energy to those around you. You have complete control over making time to improve your health through the regular practice of gratitude. It’s that simple, so start today!
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