This is the time of year when family, friends and loved ones come together to celebrate all of the wonderful things to be grateful for, but did you know that being grateful actually provides health benefits?
Here are some reasons to give thanks:
Studies have shown that our brain cannot tell the difference between our thoughts and reality. The brain is constantly racing with instantaneous thoughts that occur at the rate of up to one ten thousandth of a second with a corresponding emotion that quickly follows. When practicing thoughts of gratitude, positive and pleasant feelings follow, reducing stress, anxiety and depression.
A study in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being found that writing in a gratitude journal for 15 minutes every evening helped the participants worry less at bedtime leading to better sleep. You do not necessarily need to keep a journal but practicing gratitude before bed can significantly help improve the quality of your sleep. We all know that getting quality sleep is crucial for overall health.
Your heart can benefit from thoughts of gratitude. A recent study published by the American Psychological Association found that patients practicing gratitude with asymptomatic heart failure showed decreased levels of inflammatory biomarkers that are related to improved heart health. Another study in 1995, published in the American Journal of Cardiology, found that appreciation and positive emotions also improved heart rate variability (the interval between heartbeats). A more grateful heart is a healthier heart!
For most, the holidays come with a great amount of stress. These chronically elevated levels of stress can really tax the immune system making us more susceptible to illness. A University of Utah study found that the participants that were more optimistic had more immune-boosting blood cells than the participants who were pessimistic. If we think positively the brain will respond with a cascade of physiologic responses within the body that promote health and well being.
With all of these amazing reasons to be grateful, make sure to take the time to show gratitude to benefit yourself and inspire those around you this holiday season.
A healthy outside starts from the inside!!