5 health benefits of gratitude

Health
Parents hands handing poppy flowers

That feeling you experience when you look around at all you have and feel thankful? That’s gratitude. And it’s better for your health than you may realize. In fact, studies have found that practicing gratitude results in a multitude of health benefits.
“It helps build positive relationships, increases self-esteem and decreases toxic feelings such as anger and resentment,” says Heather Partridge, a behavioral health counselor at Tidelands Health Family Medicine at Holmestown Road in Myrtle Beach. “This leads people to have a more positive and, therefore, healthier outlook.”

Here are five ways gratitude has been shown to help improve health:

1. Reduced stress

Stress can lead to all sorts of health problems and aggravate existing conditions you may have. While exercise and participation in social activities are important ways to release stress, another way is to count your blessings, according a number of studies. For example, researchers have found that writing in a gratitude journal led to a reduction in blood pressure.

1. Improved sleep

Reduced stress levels can cause you to sleep more peacefully. A 2011 study found that participants who wrote down what they were grateful for experienced more fulfilling sleep.

3. Less pain

Studies have shown that grateful people report feeling fewer pains than others. That may be because grateful people are more likely to care for themselves through exercise and proper diet.

4. Stronger relationships

According to a study in the journal “Emotion,” thanking others can make acquaintances more likely to seek a longer-term relationship with you. So tell people how you feel when they do nice things for you because positive relationships can lead to better overall health.

5. Increased happiness

Several studies have shown that feeling grateful can increase our happiness. Researchers found that our brains release dopamine, a neurotransmitter that makes us feel good, when we feel gratitude.

To incorporate gratitude into your everyday life, Partridge suggest people write down what they’re thankful for in a journal before bed or start the day off with a walk in which they take the opportunity to appreciate their surroundings.
“It can be as simple as identifying three things at the end of each day that you are grateful for,” she says.

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