Research-backed reasons why gratitude is good for your health

By Kate Hassett

Research-backed reasons why gratitude is good for your health
Research shows there are genuine health benefits to being grateful. Here's how to put it into practice.

There’s no reason why practising thankfulness has to be relegated to just one day a year. The act of gratitude and thankfulness has been linked to a variety of health benefits and positivity boosters.

While expressing gratitude might sound like a ‘new age’ idea, there is plenty of scientific research that shows it’s a practice that’s good for you.

In fact, there is evidence that gratitude can improve almost every area of your life from relationships to self-esteem.

Health benefits of practising gratitude

Improves heart health

A study published in April 2017 tracked the levels of gratitude and spiritual well-being amongst 186 men and women with heart damage.

The study showed that those who admitted to higher levels of gratitude reported better sleep patterns, less inflammation and more frequent periods of happiness.

Improved sleep

By simply writing down a few things you are grateful for every night, before you shut your eyes, the weight of other troubles can be significantly lifted.

A study conducted in 2011 asked participants to spend 15 minutes before bed writing down everything they were grateful for.

The results showed that each person was able to drastically improve their ability to fall asleep, quieting their minds and staying asleep for longer.

Improved physical health

Aside from mental well-being, practising gratitude on a daily basis can have a huge impact on your commitment to physical health.

Studies have shown that people who were thankful and regularly practised gratitude were more likely to be physically active and stick to a regular routine.

Long-term positivity 

Those who completed a ‘gratitude diary’ on a daily basis as opposed to people who wrote down simple daily occurrences, or negative incidences, showed an increase in long-term positivity over those who wrote down bad things in their lives.

“Results suggest that a conscious focus on blessings may have emotional and interpersonal benefits,” the study authors write.

So how do we put gratitude into practice?

Start by writing down 3-4 things you are grateful for every day. These don’t have to be huge, monumental things, they can be small and seemingly unimportant but can have a huge effect on how you reflect on the goodness in your life.

Write down what these events/memories/people mean to you and why, in either a diary or somewhere online.

“When this becomes a habit, you’ve developed the attitude of gratitude,” says Karen Reivich, a resilience expert at the University of Pennsylvania.

You’ll be surprised at how easily this attitude can influence the rest of your daily habits quite quickly.

What are you grateful for?


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