Put the thanks back into your Thanksgiving celebration
Has your Thanksgiving dinner started earlier and earlier each year, so you can start shopping sooner? Do you sit down with friends and family without ever discussing why you are thankful? Make this the year you slow down and truly give thanks. Not just on Thanksgiving but every day. Your health may benefit from it.
Being grateful doesn’t cost time or money, and it can have a big impact on your health and well-being. While religions and philosophers have long known the importance of being grateful, scientists are now quantifying the benefits.
Benefits of gratitude
- It’s good for the heart. In an April 2015 study of 186 men and women with heart damage, those who had higher levels of gratitude had better moods, sleep, and lower inflammation, all signs of lowering their cardiac risk.
- It’s good for the body. Studies have shown that gratitude can lower stress levels, lower symptoms of illness, and lessen how much you are bothered by aches and pain.
- It’s good for the mind. Research confirms that happiness and gratitude are linked. Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D., who has conducted multiple studies on the benefits of being grateful, has shown that gratitude can reduce feelings of harmful emotions, such as depression, regret, and envy. Other studies have shown that gratitude can contribute to resilience following a trauma.
- It’s good for your relationships. A 2015 study from the University of Georgia found that couples who were more grateful reported being closer and more committed.
- It’s good for society. A 2016 article in The Journal of Positive Psychology found that those who had more gratitude in their lives had more meaning and behaved more altruistically toward others, such as volunteering.
How you can be more grateful
The good news is that we can all train ourselves to be more thankful. Below are some tips on how you can practice being more grateful and reap the health benefits.
- Keep a gratitude journal. Those that keep gratitude journals on a weekly basis showed less pain, felt better about their lives, and were more optimistic about the coming week, according to Emmons’ research.
- Write a gratitude list. If you want to have more success in reaching your personal goals, make a list of all the things for which you are grateful. Emmons found those he studied who made these lists made more progress in academic, interpersonal, and health goals.
- Practice grateful thinking. Children who practice thinking about what they have to give thanks for had more positive attitudes toward school and their families.
- Say thanks. Remember to thank your significant other, family members, and friends. Everyone appreciates when someone gives them thanks for things they do whether it’s cooking a meal or running an errand for them, or even listening when they need someone.
- Perform random acts of kindness. You can feel happier if you do things to make others happier.
For many, Thanksgiving marks the start of the holiday season and increased stress. Make an early New Year’s resolution for yourself to start being grateful and see if you find more enjoyment in your life. Check out this website if you’d like to hear about more gratitude exercises you can incorporate into your life.
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