We have all heard at some point that showing gratitude is good for us and those around us. Even The Mayo Clinic discusses how positive behavior can change your biology by releasing oxytocin, the love hormone. Oxytocin can allow a feeling of closeness with those around you and make you happier.
With the New Year upon us and everyone making resolutions, add gratitude to your list. Gratitude or thankfulness has fantastic health benefits that can jump-start your health journey and make a massive difference in your mental and even physical health. We have compiled the top five health benefits of being grateful.
1. Decreased Depression and Anxiety
We have heard about how gratitude can make you happy, but did you know it can also help those with depression and anxiety? Research shows that showing appreciation reduces cortisol, otherwise known as the stress hormone. It also assists in boosting neurotransmitters that activate the release of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), or the feel-good hormone, as well as serotonin and dopamine. These hormones all help to reduce stress and improve depression and anxiety.
2. Reduce Chronic Pain
Did you know that up to 85% of patients with chronic pain also have severe depression? The two are linked on numerous occasions, and treatment for the pair is similar in many cases. Studies have shown that when we feel gratitude, the area of the brain related to pain relief lights up and can actually aid in treating chronic pain.
3. Sleep Better
Research has shown that those who practice gratitude sleep better than those who don’t. It makes sense when you think of the stressors that keep you up at night. Individuals showing gratitude have more positive thoughts at bedtime than negative ones, which is associated with falling asleep faster and fewer wakings throughout the night.
4. Reduce the Risk of Disease
It should come as no surprise that with better mental health and sleep, gratitude improves overall health. Being thankful can actually lower blood pressure and improve immune system function. A less stressed body is more resilient and less likely to be prone to chronic disease as one age.
5. Improve your relationships
When you are healthier mentally and physically, you tend to be more enjoyable to be around. However, improving relationships goes beyond just being pleasant. Couples who express gratitude regularly feel more positive toward one another and happier in their relationships. They also feel more comfortable communicating and resolving issues when they arise, resulting in high satisfaction within their relationship.
These benefits go beyond romantic relationships as well. Even a manager that shows appreciation and says thank you to employees has a better relationship with their employees than those who don’t.
Improve your health with gratitude today!
- Tell those around you thank you, and write a thank you note every once in a while.
- Keep a gratitude journal, and write down one or two things you are grateful for daily.
- Meditate or take a moment each day to focus on the good things that have happened and let go of the things that are bringing you down.
- Pray or give thanks mentally. Prayer is a powerful way to incorporate gratitude, but if you’re not religious, no problem! Closing your eyes and mentally giving thanks will allow you to reap the same benefits.