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(Read time: 3.5 minutes)
Happy Thanksgiving! With the chaos of travel, seeing family, preparing for the big Thanksgiving Feast, and Christmas just around the corner…
It’s easy to forget that this is a time to remember what we are grateful for!
It turns out, nurturing an attitude of gratitude is one of the keys to happiness, health and overall well-being… In fact, there are many proven benefits of practicing gratitude not just during this time of the year but all year ‘round!
Here are five ways that practicing gratitude improves your life:
Being grateful helps relieve stress.
We all deal with stress on a daily basis. But did you know research has actually found that remembering to be grateful can actually reduce stress and curb anxiety?
If you’re stuck in a stressful situation, remembering to focus on the things that you are grateful for can calm both your body and mind…
And when you make gratitude a habit, it becomes easier and easier to focus on the good things in life, rather than on things that cause anxiety.
Gratitude has a positive effect on your health.
Did you know that gratitude actually causes our brains to produce dopamine and serotonin?
Dopamine is that “feel-good” neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward. It also contributes to focus, motivation, and happiness.
Serotonin is a chemical in our bodies that works as a mood stabilizer. This helps reduce depression and regulate anxiety…
But serotonin also helps with healing wounds and maintaining good bone health. Studies show that gratitude helps lower blood pressure, fosters better sleep, and improves heart health.
In fact, people who kept gratitude journals for 14 days reported having fewer headaches and even clearer skin!
Gratefulness strengthens our relationships.
The relationships we have, whether they are romantic, family, or friends, can be full of disappointments. As we grow closer to others, their flaws start to come to light and it can be easy to dwell on the negative.
Remembering to have an attitude of gratefulness helps us focus more on the good rather than lingering on the bad…
And the more that we focus on the good, the more we will start to see the positive attributes of the people we’re close to.
Studies have actually found that gratitude increases empathy and reduces aggression…
That’s because gratitude motivates people to express sensitivity and concern for others, while aggression does just the opposite.
No wonder grateful people have better relationships!
Grateful people are better at self-care.
People who mindfully practice being grateful tend to have better overall psychological health and physical health…
And in addition, grateful people are actually more likely to involve themselves in healthy activities as well as seek help for any concerns they may have.
So, putting it simply, grateful people are more likely to prioritize their health and take care of themselves.
Better self-care leads to a longer, happier life!
Gratitude reduces the risk of depression.
When you make regularly expressing gratitude a habit, it leads to fewer symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Being grateful actually reminds us that not everything is bad, even when times are hard. It helps us not to focus on the things that worry us, but to dwell on the positive instead.
Gratitude motivates us to get out and push ourselves toward the goals we have set in life. This sense of hope helps to defend our minds from falling into depression.
Ready to make gratitude a habit?
Here are some things you can do to foster gratitude and stay focused on the things you’re thankful for:
Start a gratitude journal. Every day, write down 3 things you’re grateful for… these can be things that happened during the day, or anything that comes to mind at the time!
Make it a habit to share something you’re grateful for each night around the dinner table.
Share your gratitude! Find a few like-minded friends and start a Gratitude Text Chain. Each day, share a text about something you’re grateful for (and a photo if you’d like).
Thanksgiving is the perfect time to focus on gratitude and start building habits that will improve your life for years to come!