Times are strange right now and with so much uncertainty in the world, it’s easy to get caught up in stress and worry, instead of gratitude. While that’s certainly a normal response to everything that’s going on, stress can actually decrease your immune system and make life harder to deal with.
That’s why, especially now, it’s important to focus on the little things you’re grateful for and the things that you can do to bring some positivity and joy into your life. Researchers say that this regular practice of gratitude will be rewarded with drastic improvements in health.
Benefits of Gratitude
So, what are the benefits of gratitude? Well there are a lot, and some that you may not have even thought of.
Gratitude can reduce stress hormones, alleviate anxiety, and help those suffer from severe stress conditions, like post-traumatic stress disorder.
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.
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.
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.
- Go outside and take a few deep breaths. Focus on the warmth or the sun or the green in the trees.
- 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 in it at least two to three times per week.
- Look in the mirror and speak to yourself in a positive, appreciative manner.