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Mental and Physical Health Benefits of Gratitude

Mental and Physical Health Benefits of Gratitude

Thanksgiving is only a few days away! I think we are all ready for a much-needed break and some family time. Families have all sorts of holiday traditions. For instance, a common Thanksgiving tradition involves each person saying what he or she is thankful for at the dinner table. This year may be harder than most to come up with something. Despite all of the hardships of 2020, we still have reasons to be thankful. In fact, the mental and physical health benefits of gratitude should motivate you to start counting your blessings.

Physical Benefits

Better Sleep

In the Journal of Psychosomatic Research, a study of 186 men and 215 women found that gratitude predicted four things:

  • Better sleep quality
  • Longer sleep
  • Decrease in the time it takes to fall asleep
  • Decrease in daytime dysfunction

Increased Immunity

Gratitude makes us more optimistic and research studies have linked optimism to increased immunity. A study referenced in WebMD found that optimistic college students maintain more white blood cells – the cells that fight infection – than pessimistic students.

Mental Health Benefits

Since gratitude makes us more optimistic, it only makes sense that it reduces our stress and depression levels. Even though it may not completely cure these conditions, it trains our brain to focus on the good within our lives. WebMD quoted psychology professor, Robert Emmons, when he said, “Gratitude research is beginning to suggest that feelings of thankfulness have tremendous positive value in helping people cope with daily problems, especially stress.”

Practice Gratitude Daily

Keep a gratitude journal and try to write down three new things you are thankful for each day. Over time you will develop a habit of positive thinking and ultimately retrain your brain. When you feel down, you can go back and remind yourself of the good in your life as well. For tips about journaling and its benefits, click here.

Gratitude Journal