Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow – Melody Beattie
On this Thanksgiving eve, we are reminded of ALL that we are grateful for…including YOU, our readers and followers!
Gratitude is good for health
According to the American Heart Association several clinical trials show that engaging in a practice of gratitude can lower blood pressure and help the immune system. “Grateful people engage in more exercise, have better dietary behaviors, are less likely to smoke and abuse alcohol, and have higher rates of medication (taking)”. Several studies suggest that gratitude can decrease stress and anxiety by activating the areas in the brain that the release feel-good hormones serotonin and dopamine.
Research discussed in the Jan/Feb, 2019 issue of Diabetes Self-Management also shows that positive psychological states such as gratitude are associated with improved physical health in people with diabetes, improved sleep, and increased self esteem. While the relationship is not fully understood, positive emotions such as expressing gratitude, are linked to healthier lifestyle choices. And healthy lifestyle choices including healthy eating and being active are in turn linked to overall health.
How to get started with gratitude in this season of Thanksgiving?
Here are 5 strategies to help develop daily gratitude habits:
- Have gratitude reminders. These are simple cues to remind you to focus on gratitude daily. Maybe it’s an alarm on your phone, a bracelet or wristband, a photo, a magnet, or a post it note. And with that reminder, pause, take a breath and focus on being grateful in that moment.
- Keep a gratitude journal. We both have found this to be a good personal practice to express gratitude more readily and maintain focus on finding things to be grateful for. Some log entries in their journal weekly, and others daily. Our personal goal is to identify at least 3 things daily for which we’re grateful.While the goal is to write in the journal daily, sometimes life happens and weeks may go by without an entry, but we pick right back up with our entries.
- Start a gratitude box. Keeping a box (jar, album, folder, or whatever works for you) filled with notes, pictures, and moments you are grateful for can bring a boost when needed.
- Voice or write down one (two, or three) good things that happened in your day. On the homefront, this is a gratitude practice Tami has used with her son over the years. In the days when she would take and pick him up from school, she found that the drive time was a good time to learn about his day. That conversation always began with these words, “Tell me something good that happened today.” He knew he needed to answer that, acknowledging something good, before talking about the challenges of the day.
- Use gratitude apps. There are a number of apps with a range of capabilities including sending reminders, sharing uplifting thoughts, and organizing memories for which you are grateful.
You can glean other insight in this post we wrote on Gratitude here.
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