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Three Gifts of Gratitude

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It might be the season of ‘giving,’ and that can also mean receiving, but what about giving thanks? Research has shown that feeling gratitude can help counteract negative emotions such as depression and anxiety.

A report from the University of California at Berkeley revealed that when study participants expressed thanks in the form of ‘gratitude letters,’ their mental health improved more than those who did not.

A better life is perhaps one of life’s greatest gifts, but the benefits of gratitude don’t stop there. Here’s more on how giving thanks can lead to a happier and healthier life.

Gratitude Reduces Stress

Feeling thankful isn’t just associated with a positive outlook; there are other mental health benefits, too. One report published in the Journal of Research and Personality showed that those who experienced gratitude had lower levels of stress. It’s thought that this could be attributed to higher levels of social support as well as the release of feel-good hormones such as dopamine.

The holidays can sometimes be associated with stress due to traffic, travel delays, difficult family and/or friend relations, or an overly busy event schedule. Expressing thanks or counting one’s blessings can help increase an overall sense of calm.

Gratitude Boosts Health

The same report mentioned above also revealed that those who expressed (and felt) gratitude tended to care for their overall health to a higher degree, which often includes exercise. And of course, working exercise into one’s days has countless physical benefits, including (as detailed in the report) longevity.

In other words, feeling thankful can help motivate one to head outside for a walk or participate in other activities.

Gratitude Enhances Sleep

A good night’s sleep is something everyone loves—and of course needs—for a healthy, well-balanced life. A 2009 study published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research showed that practicing gratitude is related to overall sleep quality and duration. The finding gives new meaning to the saying, “Never go to sleep angry.”

Instead, before hitting the hay, why not list reasons to give thanks? Expressing gratitude can lead to many more reasons to feel thankful.

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