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6 Scientifically Proven Health Benefits of Gratitude

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By    |   Tuesday, 22 Nov 2016 10:11 AM

It’s the season where we gather together with family and friends and give thanks for our bounty, our friendships, and love. But while it’s nice to count your blessings on Thanksgiving Day, practicing gratitude throughout the year can have tremendous health benefits.

In fact, say experts, gratitude may be one of the most overlooked tools we can implement daily to improve our quality of life, physically, emotionally and mentally.
Here are some of the most powerful health benefits:

Improved relationships. Not only does saying “thank you” constitute good manners but showing appreciation can make new friends and improve your existing relationships according to 2014 study published in the journal Emotion.

“People around you can relate to your positive energy and want to be in your circle of trust,” says noted psychologist Judy Kuriansky, author of “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Health Relationships. “

“And don’t forget to start with those closest to you: your spouse, significant other and immediate family members. We tend to take these intimate relationships for granted but remembering to show appreciation to those closest to you on a regular basis creates a cross flow of positive energy than enhances everyone’s well being.”

Better physical health. It’s well known that grateful people experience fewer aches and pains and report that they feel healthier than other people, according to a published study in the journal Personality and Individual Differences.

Not surprisingly, grateful people are also more likely to take care of their health, Kuriansky tells Newsmax Health. They exercise more often, eat healthier and are more likely to get regular checkups with their healthcare providers.

Psychological benefits. ”Gratitude is important for optimal emotional health,” notes Dr. Delia Chiaramonte, director of education in the Department of Complimentary and Integrative Medicine at the University of Maryland.

“But it’s important that we use gratitude as a behavior and not just a state of mind. For example, many people keep a gratitude journal where they record three things each day for which they are grateful. You may also share your gratitude with family members around the dinner table. Make it a practice not a theoretical exercise.”

Dr. Martin Seligman adds that “writing a single gratitude letter increases happiness and mood for one month.”

Increased empathy, reduced aggression. Grateful people are more likely to behave in a pro-social manner, even when others are unkind to them, according to a recent study conducted by the University of Kentucky.

Study subjects who ranked high on a gratitude scale were less like to show aggression toward others even when given negative feedback.

“So their lives were less likely to include negativity and drama,” says Kurianksy.

Deeper sleep. Writing in a gratitude journal, as Chiaramonte suggests, improves sleep according to a study published in the journal Applied Psychology. Spend 15 minutes jotting down a few grateful sentiments before bed and you may sleep better and longer.

“The most important thing in a gratitude ritual is that the list must be different every single day,” she tells Newsmax Health. “It is not sufficient to say ‘I am grateful for my family, friends and my health’ over and over again. This kind of ritual will soon lose its impact. Sometimes my list includes a great meal or conversation or just being able to sleep in late.”

Improved mental strength and self-esteem. For years research has shown that gratitude not only reduces stress, but it may play a major role in overcoming trauma, says Kuriansky. A study published in Behavior Research and Therapy found that Vietnam War veterans with higher rates of gratitude experienced lower rates of post traumatic stress disorder.

“Recognizing those things you are grateful for even during trying times builds resilience,” she says. ”We’ve seen patients with major diseases go through their illnesses with less stress, pain and mental anguish when they focus on the things they have to be grateful for. Gratitude releases positive hormones throughout the body that enhances mental, physical and emotional well being.”

Other studies published in the Journal of Applied Sport Psychology noted that the same practice of gratitude — not harboring resentment or comparison to others — boosts an athlete’s self-esteem which is an essential component of optimum performance.

“Developing an ‘attitude of gratitude’ is one of the simplest ways to improve your satisfaction with life,” says Kuriansky.
 

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Thanksgiving is a time to count your blessings and be grateful for family and friends. But psychologists say practicing gratitude throughout the year can have tremendous health benefits – on both mind and body. Here are six proven benefits of gratitude.
gratitude, health, benefits, thanks, giving
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2016-11-22
Tuesday, 22 Nov 2016 10:11 AM
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