Be grateful it's good for your health.
Lifestyle Medicine, Mind-Body Medicine

Be Grateful: It’s Good for Your Health

Also featured in my Health and Wellness Column this month at NewsDurham.com. A favourite topic of mine, so I thought I’d share with you, too. Read on to start cultivating your own Gratitude practice, and be healthier for it.

Think of three things you’re grateful for — right now. Repeat this practice every day for a week; every week for a month. Why? You’ll be healthier for it.

Studies show that gratitude combats negative emotions, improves well-being and fosters positive relationships. Grateful people report better psychological health and have a lower risk of developing anxiety and depression. In addition, gratitude bridges the mind-body connection, improving physical health. Being grateful increases one’s likelihood of exercising, consuming nutritious foods and making positive lifestyle choices.

If you already consider yourself grateful, add these blessings to your tally. But if you’re a Negative Nancy by nature, there’s good news: gratitude can be learned. Studies have shown that gratitude can be cultivated through trainingjournaling, or writing letters of gratitude to others.

After only a few weeks of gratitude practice, study participants noted more happiness, life satisfaction, and positive emotions such as compassion and forgiveness. Sleep improved; depressive symptoms and stress lessened. And given recent research highlighting stress’ negative effects such as inflammation, hypertension, obesity, diabetes, and even deaths from heart attack and cancer — gratitude matters.

Here’s how you can get more grateful starting today.

Keep a gratitude journal. Daily or weekly, write down three things you’re grateful for. From taking a breath of fresh air to playing soccer with your children, the list is endless. Think about your freedoms, advantages, opportunities, basic needs fulfilled, people in your life who support you, material items, trips, travel, and skills you’ve mastered.

Cultivate gratitude under guidance. Davidji from the Chopra Center offers a free, inspirational online guided meditation on gratitude. Tune in to feel grateful in no time.

Read a book. I’m a fan of Janice Kaplan’s The Gratitude Diaries. She weaves anecdote, science, and humour into this tale of her personal quest as a mother and wife to let more gratitude into her life.

Improve your gratitude and reap the health benefits. Your mind and body will thank you for years to come. Namaste.

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