November is a time when we focus on gratitude, but did you know that gratitude is more than just giving thanks? When practiced regularly, gratitude can improve your health in profound ways. So what if we extended the practice of gratitude beyond November and applied the practice to our day-to-day routine? Researchers say that this regular practice of gratitude will be rewarded with drastic improvements in health.
5 Health Benefits of Gratitude
- Decreases Stress
Gratitude can reduce stress hormones, alleviate anxiety, and help those suffer from severe stress conditions, like post-traumatic stress disorder.
- Improves Self-Esteem
Regularly practicing gratitude can help increase self-esteem and reduce our tendency to make social comparisons. Gratitude helps you truly appreciate others’ successes, instead of becoming jealous or resentful of them.
- Helps You Sleep
According to a study published in 2011, writing in a gratitude journal on a regular basis (just 15 minutes before bed) may help you sleep better and longer.
- Improves Relationships
A study done in 2012 found that people in romantic relationships who felt appreciated by their partners were more likely to appreciate their partners in return, and therefore, stay in the relationship longer. Another study found that showing appreciation can also help you make new friends. Saying “thank you” and showing genuine appreciation makes people more likely to seek an ongoing relationship.
- Increases Happiness
In a study done by Robert Emmons, a leading researcher on gratitude, it was determined that subjects who wrote down one thing they were thankful for everyday for three weeks experienced a 25 percent increase in happiness for the 6 months following. Gratitude also reduces feelings of depression and can help you think more positively.
How to Practice Gratitude Daily
Gratitude doesn’t have to be some grand gesture. In fact, it can be something that you quietly practice every day in small ways. Here are some ideas to get you started right now:
- Write a thank you note to someone who has made a positive impact on your life.
- Write down three things that you’re thankful for every day.
- Smile at a stranger and wish them a “good day”.
- Keep a journal of your thoughts. Write at least two to three times per week.
- Look in the mirror and speak to yourself in a positive, appreciative manner.