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Practice Gratitude – It Will Improve Your Health

November 27, 2020

By Heather Nezich, courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner ASE

Listing the things we’ve missed out on in 2020 is easy, but what about the things we are thankful for?  Even during challenging times, it’s important to reflect upon the things in your life that you are thankful for.

According to Psychology Today, there are seven scientifically proven benefits of gratitude:

  1. Gratitude opens the door to more relationships. A 2014 study published in Emotion found that thanking a newly made acquaintance results in them seeking an ongoing relationship.  Being thankful can result in new friendships.
  2. Gratitude improves physical health. Grateful people have been shown to be more likely to exercise and take care of themselves.  In addition, a study published in Personality and Induvial Differences revealed that grateful people experience fewer aches and pains and report feeling healthier than other people.
  3. Gratitude improves psychological health. Negative emotions are toxic and create feelings of envy, resentment, frustration, and regret.  A leading gratitude researcher, Robert Emmons, has completed several studies that show a strong link between gratitude and well-being. His studies have shown that gratitude increase happiness and reduces depression.
  4. Gratitude enhance empathy and reduces aggression. A 2012 study by the University of Kentucky proved that grateful people are more likely to behave in a prosocial manner, even when others behave less kindly.  Those who ranked higher on a gratitude scale were less likely to retaliate against others.  They had increased empathy – a factor of emotional intelligence.
  5. Grateful people sleep better. We all want better sleep!  Being grateful can improve sleep according to a study published in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being. They suggest writing down what you are grateful for each night before bed.
  6. Gratitude improves self-esteem. According to a study published in the Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, gratitude increased athletes’ self-esteem. Other studies have shown similar results.  Due to less resentment of others, grateful people tend to have a higher level of self-worth. They use other people’s accomplishments as aspirations rather than comparisons.
  7. Gratitude increase mental strength. Several studies have shown that gratefulness plays a major role in trauma recovery. A 2006 study published in Behavior Research and Therapy found that Vietnam War veterans with higher levels of gratitude experienced lower rates of post-traumatic stress disorder. Gratefulness fosters resilience.

So, what are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?  CBS News recently asked that question, and maybe some of the answers they received can help us all remember that there is always something to be thankful for.

“I’m grateful to be alive, and breathing on your own is the best.”

“My arms work. My legs work. I can walk.”

“I’m not living out on the streets. I have a roof over my head.”

“I’m grateful that we still have what we have.”

“I’m grateful for still being alive.”

“I’m going to have an amazing Thanksgiving all by myself. I will sit on a park bench, and I will think about the great Thanksgivings that I’ve had in my life and be thankful for them. One bad Thanksgiving out of 63 amazing Thanksgivings – that’s pretty good odds. Maybe we should be a little more thankful for what we do have than constantly be complaining about what we don’t have.”

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