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Be Thankful: How Science Says that Having Gratitude is Good For Your Health

Thursday, November 17th, 2016

Thanksgiving season reminds us to be grateful for all the positive things in our lives—big and small. The practice of gratitude is not only seasonal, it’s great for your health, too!

benefits-of-gratitude

Gratitude as One of Many Positive Habits

Mental health professionals have recently started taking a close look at how qualities such as gratitude can impact our health. The findings are very positive: grateful people tend to take better care of themselves, and engage in protective and proactive health behaviors such as regular exercise, a healthy diet, good sleeping habits, and regular checkups and examinations from their general practitioner and their dentist (1).

It’s a Stress Reliever

High levels of stress, left unchecked, can make us sick. It’s linked to chronic disease, heart disease, cancers, autoimmune disorders, and a high percentage of why people visit the doctor. But it turns out, gratitude helps people manage stress and cope with daily problems (1).

Boosts Your Immunity

Gratitude and optimism go hand in hand. These characteristics seem to boost the immune system, according to research. A psychology professor at the University of Utah found that people with higher levels of optimism showed higher counts of blood cells that are important for immune system function, compared to more pessimistic people (1). Being consistently mindful of the things you have to be thankful for boosts your well-being (2).

Helps You Be a Better Friend

According to a 2003 study from the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, gratitude tends to boost pro-social behaviors, such as helping others, lending emotional support, or assisting with problems. This also has the benefit of strengthening your relationships (2).

learn-to-have-more-gratitude

How to Become More Optimistic and Grateful

 Those who are more mindful of benefits they’ve received, or whose perspective in life has them focusing their attention outward tend to naturally have a more grateful mindset. But you can learn to increase the gratitude in your life!

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Start a gratitude journal. Keep it by your bed and write a few things in it each night for which you are grateful. Psychology Today reported this habit has a side benefit: falling asleep faster and staying asleep longer (2).
  • Tell someone you are grateful for them. Gratitude can be contagious!
  • Create a list of great things in your life. Then ask yourself, “Do I take these for granted?” Look at this list daily as a reminder of all you have to be thankful for.
  • Watch your self-talk, and your conversation with others. Are you using optimistic and appreciative sentiments and phrases? Or do your words, thoughts and conversations tend to have a negative or complaining undertone?
  • Put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Changing the perspective of how you look at a situation can make you more understanding and patient about what is going on. This can help improve your gratitude as well.
  • When you feel yourself getting upset, or ready to complain about a situation, stop for a minute. Is there anything about the situation that has potential? Is there a silver lining? Can you look on the bright side?
  • Find the positive in a challenge. What positive traits might a tough situation help you improve? Patience? Empathy? Understanding? Teamwork? Courage? Be grateful for the challenge and the learning experience.

So, practice gratitude this month, keep smiling, and enjoy your Thanksgiving with your newly appreciative attitude. And be sure to sprinkle in a healthy dose of gratitude into your life all year long—for your health! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving from Hagen Dental Practice.

Call Hagen Dental Practice Today

Have any questions you want to know the answer to? We’d love to answer any of the questions you have! Schedule your next visit with Hagen Dental by calling us at (513) 251-5500.

Sources:

  1. http://www.webmd.com/women/features/gratitute-health-boost#1
  2. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/21/gratitude-healthy-benefits_n_2147182.html