Written by: Olivia Bricen, Vera Health blogger
Thanksgiving is approaching, and I like to spend this time of year reflecting and showing gratitude for the good things that fill my life. The Thanksgiving holiday represents peace, togetherness, and thankfulness, so what could be a better time of year to start or deepen your gratitude practice than November? There are endless benefits of gratitude (even science says so)! So, keep reading to learn how thankfulness can enhance your life, and discover some of my favorite ways to put it into practice!
6 Benefits of Gratitude
Gratitude can improve your well-being from the inside out. Find out how showing more thanks constitutes better health, more happiness, and a positive connection to the world around you.
1. Gratitude can improve physical health.
A person’s mood can go hand in hand with their physical health. Science shows that people with a grateful mindset typically make healthier life choices, like eating nutritious foods, exercising, and attending regular check-ups. Contrarily, people who are stuck in constant or long-term negativity tend to have less healthy habits. Studies also suggest that grateful people report fewer body aches and pains and feel healthier than others.
2. Gratitude can relieve stress.
Speaking of emotions, gratitude improves them, which can change the way you’re affected by stress. According to an experiment from Scientific Reports, researchers saw participants’ heart rates decrease after practicing gratitude before, during, and after experiencing dissatisfaction and resentment. So, when you’re feeling stressed, do a mental check-in and think about a few positive aspects of your life to feel more centered.
3. Gratitude can help you sleep better.
If you’re having trouble sleeping, try counting your blessings before bed. According to a study published in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being, journaling about gratitude for just 15 minutes can promote a more restful night’s sleep.
4. Gratitude can lower symptoms of depression.
It’s no surprise that depression affects one’s quality of life. With symptoms ranging from isolation to sadness to low self-esteem, feeling depressed can hinder you from enjoying the present moment. Over 17 million American adults experience depression each year, and practicing gratitude is one of the easiest ways to relieve symptoms. Studies show that thankfulness can increase feelings of happiness and decrease toxic emotions. So, if you’re in a funk, try focusing on what you’re thankful for to feel more uplifted.
5. Gratitude can promote empathy and selflessness.
How do you feel when you do something kind for someone else or lend a sympathetic ear? Better, more positive? Gratitude is rooted in the perspective of shifting the focus from yourself to the people and things around you. It can be easy to get caught up in personal worries, but putting more energy into helping others can manifest empathy and selflessness. Plus, positivity is contagious, and an attitude of gratitude could go much further than you may think.
6. Gratitude can help you appreciate what you have.
In a society where instant gratification is the norm, it can be hard to resist the conveniences that make life seem easier and more exciting: one-click shopping, free shipping, instant downloads, food delivery services, and so on. However, science suggests that consumerism does the opposite. Studies show that a materialistic mindset can make a person feel less happy, less fulfilled, and more prone to anxiety, depression, and substance abuse.
A grateful mindset helps you appreciate the good things in life, like family, a delicious meal, or crisp autumn weather, while materialism equates happiness with objects. Longing for the next best piece of clothing, technology, or other product inevitably results in feelings of dissatisfaction because something newer, shinier, and better will always come along. Thanksgiving is a great time to get grounded and express thanks for what you have—tangible or not, so stop and smell the roses and note how you feel this month.
4 Ways to Cultivate Gratitude
Adding a consistent gratitude practice to your routine is one of the simplest and most rewarding ways to live a more fulfilling life. Here are some of my favorite gratitude practices that always leave me rejuvenated, appreciative, and centered. Try one or a few out over the next week, and share your experience in the comments below!
1. Keep a gratitude journal.
Keeping a daily gratitude journal is one of the easiest ways to reap the benefits of appreciation. Start by writing down three to five things that you are grateful for every day (be specific!) and try not to repeat yourself. Taking the time to reflect on what you’re thankful for is a great way to start your mornings on a positive note or end your evenings in gratitude.
If you’re new to meditation or meditate regularly, you can feel the effects of gratitude after periods of stillness. By taking the time to pause before, during, or after a busy day, you can create space to process the positive aspects of your life. Try repeating a mantra, a simple quote, or listen to guided meditations for gratitude to feel the effects.
3. Practice mindfulness.
Mindfulness comes in many forms but is always rooted in living in the present. When you fully experience each moment, you worry less about what’s next, appreciate the here and now, and have more meaningful interactions. Mindful listening, focusing on your breath, observing the environment around you, and returning to the present moment are a few ways to acknowledge and appreciate your current state.
Helping others not only benefits those in need; it can also benefit you. When you offer a helping hand, you shift your focus to something outside of yourself (which some of history’s great thinkers believed was the secret to happiness). Volunteering can also put things into perspective and help you cultivate gratitude for the things that you have. Whether you’re passionate about feeding the hungry, caring for animals, or cleaning the environment, there are endless ways that you can give back and cultivate gratitude.
Are you feeling grateful yet? I know I am. From one family to another, Vera Health wishes you a very happy Thanksgiving. If you’re not part of the Vera fam yet, we’d love to connect with you. To learn more about health and wellness, receive helpful health insurance information, and stay up to date with health news, subscribe to our email newsletter to stay in the know. You can also chat with us at 844-260-7226 or visit us online any time to learn more about affordable short-term health insurance options for you or your family.