The Science of Gratitude
You may have heard that practicing gratitude can improve your well-being and relationships, but did you know that there is actual science to support these claims? Countless studies have shown that gratitude has a number of benefits for both mental and physical health. Here are just a few of the ways in which gratitude can change your life for the better.
Gratitude improves physical health.
One study published in Behaviour Research and Therapy found that participants who kept gratitude journals reported fewer health complaints than those who did not. Another study looked at older adults with chronic pain and found that those who wrote about things they were grateful for experienced less pain and fatigue, slept better, and had more energy than those who did not practice gratitude. One study found that grateful people were more likely to take care of their health, exercise regularly, and eat a healthy diet. Another study found that gratitude is linked with lower blood pressure and a reduced risk for heart disease.
Gratitude strengthens relationships.
In one study, participants were asked to either express gratitude to their partner or request something from their partner. Those who expressed gratitude reported feeling closer to their partner and more satisfied with their relationship than those who made a request. Gratitude also improved relationship satisfaction among couples dealing with PTSD. In another study, participants who wrote about things they were grateful for experienced increased social connectedness.
Gratitude Can Improve Your Mental Health
If you’re struggling with anxiety or depression, gratitude can help. Expressing gratitude has been shown to decrease depressive symptoms and increase levels of happiness and well-being. Gratitude can also help you cope with stress in a healthier way by increasing your resilience in the face of adversity.
Gratitude enhances well-being.
Writing about things you are grateful for has been shown to increase levels of happiness and life satisfaction, as well as reduce depression. One study found that participants who kept a daily gratitude journal reported higher levels of positive emotions, optimism, vitality, alertness, and determination, as well as less anxiety and depression. Another study found similar results in adolescents. Not only does gratitude make you feel good in the moment, but it also has lasting effects on overall happiness and life satisfaction.
Gratitude Can Help You Achieve Your Goals
If you’re working towards a goal, be grateful for what you have – even if it’s not what you ultimately want. This can help you achieve your goal because gratitude creates a sense of abundance, which in turn motivates you to keep pursuing your goals. Additionally, research has shown that people who are grateful are more likely to reach their goals and feel increased satisfaction when they do.
The science is clear: gratitude has a number of benefits for both mental and physical health. So if you want to improve your relationships, sleep better, feel less pain, have more energy, or just be happier overall, start practicing gratitude today! You may just find that it changes your life for the better.
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Mindy Amita Aisling