Practice gratitude to improve health and boost happiness

When you make an effort to see the good in life, you’ll notice that you’re happier, more content and less stressed. You’ll also enjoy some nice health benefits, including lower blood pressure, improved immune response and reduced risk of depression, anxiety and substance abuse disorders.

A grateful spirit may seem like it comes naturally to some people. But to nurture a habit of thankfulness, it helps to make a conscious choice, day-by-day. These practices can help you keep gratitude at the center of your mind:

Savor each day. Slow down and enjoy the things that bring you comfort and joy but that also can be taken for granted, such as a loved one’s smile, a crisp apple, a bright blue sky or a warm cup of tea.

Write it down. What makes you smile? Note it in a daily gratitude journal. It can truly make a difference in where your focus lies. It’s hard to get stuck in the negative when you are busy counting and writing about your blessings.

Studies show that people who use a gratitude journal are more optimistic and enjoy better health. They tend to be more alert, determined, enthusiastic and energetic. They also cope better with stressful life events, bounce back from illness faster, exercise more, sleep longer and enjoy better sleep quality.

Big or small, find the moments from your day or reflections on your life to appreciate. It could be a kind word, a helpful neighbor or a hearty laugh.

Writing it down will help you focus on the positive. And any time you need a lift, you can turn back to your journal and read those memories and moments.

Say thanks. Write a letter and deliver it in person if you can. Let others know how much you appreciate them, their kindness, generosity, friendship, time, etc. You’ll reap the benefits of a grateful deed and bring that person joy of their own.

Help others. Reaching out and assisting those in need often reminds us of the good in the world. Even better, make volunteering a family affair-and teach your children the power of giving and gratitude.

Studies show that telling a friend about a happy event in your life increases the amount of joy you feel about that event. And that attitude of gratitude may just spread to those around you.

Find more healthy-living tips at peacehealth.org/healthy-you.

Courtesy of PeaceHealth Medical Group

  1. Thanks so much for this great and important post.I too believe in the power of gratitude. That’s why I wrote the children’s book, BEFORE I SLEEP: I SAY THANK YOU, Pauline Books and Media, 2015. It was a finalist for an ACP Excellence in Publishing Awards 2016 in the children’s category and won 3rd place in the Catholic Press Association Book Awards 2016 in the children’s category. It offers a kid-friendly way to teach small children how to examine their consciences at the end of the day and teach them the importance of gratitude. At the end of the book it asks the children to say five things they are grateful for. Imagine how much sweeter the world would be if children learn gratitude early!
    Here’s the book’s trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qbf_KXG73HY

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