The holiday season has a way of shining a light on everything there is to be grateful for over the past year. While Thanksgiving serves as a spirited reminder to be especially mindful of expressing gratitude, giving thanks should not end solely because its namesake holiday has passed. In fact, research suggests that regularly showing gratitude can actually provide several enormous benefits for your overall health, happiness, and vitality.
Being Grateful Boosts Moods
One of the most commonly suggested exercises to beat the blues is to create a list of three good things that happened each day. While this is a great way to practice mindfulness and gratitude, the “three good things” exercise has also been scientifically proven to lessen depression and improve one’s well-being. According to a 2012 study conducted by the University of Zurich, daily affirmations of gratitude have been shown to reduce anxiety and depression in participants in as little as a few weeks. Integrating the “three good things” exercise into your nightly routine can prove to have a significant impact on your overall mood and outlook on life when practiced daily over an extended period of time.
Being Grateful Regulates the Sleep Cycle
Famed lyricist Irving Berlin once penned the song “Count Your Blessings (Instead of Sheep),” but this sentiment holds much more meaning than the average holiday tune. One of the most common reasons one might experience difficulty falling and staying asleep is due to stress. If your final thoughts before heading to bed involve stressful situations, it makes sense that your mind and body might struggle to reach the level of relaxation needed to achieve a deep, restful sleep. Make it a point to stay mindful and in control of your thoughts before falling asleep by replacing every negative thought with something you are grateful for. Going to bed with positivity at the forefront of your conscious and subconscious mind will allow insomnia sufferers to sleep better for longer, which helps to improve one’s energy, vitality, and mental clarity.
Being Grateful Improves Self-Esteem
So often we fall into the trap of comparing ourselves to others. While a bit of healthy competition might serve as a motivator at work or in the gym, it can become a toxic mindset if it begins to affect one’s self-esteem. Being grateful forces one’s attention inwards, blocking out any external factors that might influence how we view ourselves. In fact, a 2015 study showed a direct correlation between gratitude and a higher self-esteem. By regularly practicing gratitude, you are training your mind to make the simple shift from “I wish I could run as fast as my jogging partner” to “I am grateful for the progress I’ve made since I started running.”
Being Grateful Promotes Self-Care
Your family. Your friends. Your pets. Your career. With so much to be thankful for, why neglect your health? It’s easy to find a multitude of reasons to put off doctors appointments, skip the gym, and stray away from a healthy diet. However, consciously finding things to be grateful for could be the fuel to the fire you need to begin living a healthier lifestyle. Remain mindful of the many reasons you want to live a long, happy, healthy life, and you will be more likely to find the motivation needed to follow through on your health and wellness goals.
Maintaining the Attitude of Gratitude
Expressing gratitude is not solely contained to thinking about everything you have to be thankful for, but also carries over into the way you care for yourself mentally and physically. Let the people, things, and events you are grateful for serve as your motivators to make a conscious effort to be the happiest and healthiest version of yourself. Establish a set of wellness goals with a functional medicine doctor so you can add “good health” to your gratitude list as you head into the new year.
Dr. Lorraine Maita is a recognized and award-winning holistic, functional, and anti-aging physician and author. She transforms people’s lives by getting to the root cause of illness using the best of science and nature. Her approach is personalized, precision medicine where you are treated as the unique individual you are. If you’re ready to start your journey to a healthier, happier life, schedule your visit today!