A little bit of gratitude can go a long way. And why wouldn't it? Life can be stressful sometimes and what better way to combat those oftentimes daily struggles than by taking a moment to breath and be thankful?
Luckily (and unsurprisingly) for all of us, gratitude actually has several benefits to our daily life, physical health, and mental wellness. Instead of wallowing in despair and sadness, brooding in anger, or dwelling on negative thoughts, we can choose to turn to gratitude to literally get the weight off of our shoulders and
especially off of our minds.
Now what are some health benefits to being grateful? Well...
1. Gratitude can build or strengthen relationships. Everyone likes feeling appreciated, whether it be your long time friends, or someone you just met five seconds ago. When you thank someone for their small act of kindness, you not only show that you have good manners, but also that you recognized their kind
gesture, prompting them to like you (maybe more) and want to perhaps connect with you. And who wouldn't want a new friend when the opportunity offers itself?
2. Gratitude improves physical health. When people don't let stress get to them and choose happiness, they're less likely to experience aches, pain, and headaches resulting in a healthier, positive, and more fulfilling lifestyle. In addition, grateful people are more likely to take better care of their health, often
visiting the doctor more or exercising more; thus, living a longer, healthier, and happier life.
3. Gratitude improves psychological health. Of course, with more gratitude, there is less room in a person's life for negative, toxic, and taxing emotions. Studies have found that gratitude does lead to an increase in happiness and reduces depression.
4. Gratitude enhances empathy and reduces aggression. Grateful people are more likely to let aggression from others roll off their shoulders. They are also less likely to seek revenge from being slighted or wronged. Moreover, they're oftentimes able to experience more sensitivity and empathy for other people.
5. Grateful people sleep better. A study has found that writing in a gratitude journal for 15 minutes each night provides better sleep. So try jotting down a few things you are grateful for before bed each night and find your way to a better, longer, and more restful slumber.
6. Gratitude improves self-esteem. A study done by the Journal of Applied Sport Psychology found that gratitude boosted athletes' self-esteem and their overall performance. This is due to a reduction of social comparisons. Due to feeling less resentful and envious of others; abilities, gratitude helps focus and
ground an athletes' happiness to only themselves, allowing them to appreciate their own abilities and boost their esteem; this made it easier to support teammates and not compare themselves to others.
7. Gratitude increases mental strength. Research has shown that gratitude reduces stress and is pivotal to overcoming trauma, such as in the case of helping veterans overcome post-traumatic stress disorders
and victims of tragedies become resilient.
So how can we practice gratitude? Here are the top 10 most common ways:
1. Keeping a daily gratitude journal
2. Telling someone you love and appreciate them
3. Notice the beauty in nature or throughout our daily life (if you live in the city)
4. Nurture all your relationships; familial, romantic, and friendships
5. Smile often and try to have a good belly laugh everyday!
6. Watch inspiring videos to remind you of human kindness, to get your creativity flowing, and/or to boost your mood
7. Do an act of kindness everyday. Bonus points if it is for a stranger!
8. Volunteer for organizations that help others, especially those in need. That could be homeless shelters,
soup kitchens, nursing homes, children's hospitals, or animal shelters
9. Compliment the people around you whenever you can
10. Live mindfully, focusing on the gift of the present, rather than dwelling on the past or being anxious about the future
So go practice some gratitude right now, and bring some thankfulness and positivity into your life. Remove the stress, and bring in some change and cheer.
Words by Theresa Do
Images via Pinterest