Thanksgiving is often when we express what we are thankful for, no matter how big or small. While this one day is a great opportunity to remind us of life’s blessings, practicing gratitude outside of the holiday season may lead to positive health benefits in many areas of our lives.
Improved overall physical health
Practicing gratitude is a great way to naturally improve your health. One study1 found that those who recognized what they were thankful for daily began exercising more, eating more nutritious meals and started seeing their doctors for regular checkups. The study also found other benefits such as improved immune system, lower blood pressure and reduced inflammation.
Improved overall psychological health
Choosing to focus on positive aspects of your days instead of the negatives can help diminish anxiety and depression symptoms. Recognizing that you had a bad day and then bringing forward what parts of the day were good can help boost your mood and reset your mindset.
It’s no secret that feeling good about your day helps you rest better at night. Listing a few things that you are grateful for each day right before falling asleep is known to improve the overall quality and length of your sleep. As a result, you may experience less fatigue, which can lead to increased productivity.
Acknowledging how your friends, family or partner positively impact your life allows you the opportunity to show your appreciation for them. A great way to strengthen your relationships with them include thanking them verbally, writing them a letter or even performing a small gesture of appreciation. Recognizing aspects of relationships that you are thankful for allows you to expand your social network with like-minded people.
Desire to give back
While recognizing what you are grateful for, you may find that certain people, hobbies or organizations have had a major impact on your life. Volunteering your time or talent to people in need is a great way to show gratitude, especially to people who need it most.
How to practice gratitude:
Practicing gratitude can be accomplished in many ways. No matter how big or small the practice is, gratitude can make a positive impact on your health. Some examples of how you can express gratitude include:
- Write each day in a gratitude journal
- Gratitude jar – add slips of paper that include things you are grateful for each day
- Write gratitude letters and thank you notes for people you appreciate
- Treating yourself to your favorite food or beverage
- Thank or compliment people you see throughout the day
- Reflect on your day – recognize what you are thankful for, no matter how small
- Volunteer – this offers a great way to give back to people and places you are thankful for
- Practice mindfulness – a type of meditation that involves being aware of your five senses
- Place reminders around your living space to be grateful
To learn more about how you can take control of your health, visit dupagemedicalgroup.com/services/family-medicine to schedule an appointment with a family medicine physician.