Gratitude is good for you – incredibly healthy for those who practice it. Gratitude not only helps us cultivate emotional well-being and regulate stress, but also positively affects our physical health.
It’s not surprising that gratitude is good for our emotional health. What is more surprising is that gratitude is good for our physical health, especially in the culture of mens sana in corpore sano .
A healthy mind in a healthy body. It’s actually a two-way street, because it also works the other way around: a healthy body in a healthy mind.
The good news is that it doesn’t matter how we express our gratitude, because any way is good for our health. Why? Because gratitude in any form has an amazing neurological effect on us.
A recent study published in April 2017 found that people who experience and express gratitude reported fewer symptoms of physical illness and better sleep quality.
While the immediate effects of gratitude are clear, the authors argue that when it comes to relationships and personal well-being, gratitude is also good for long-term success.
Gratitude is good for you
A 2009 study conducted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that the hypothalamus is activated when we feel gratitude or when we do things with altruistic intent.
While it may be hard to believe, this research supports the claim that we literally cannot function properly without gratitude. The hypothalamus is the part of our brain that regulates important bodily functions, including appetite, sleep, temperature, metabolism and growth.
The good news is that gratitude is addictive, in a positive way. When we act out of kindness and gratitude, we release large amounts of dopamine, a natural reward that acts as an incentive to keep us motivated to be grateful.
Gratitude is good for your health and makes pain less painful
It’s hard to believe that something as simple as being grateful can relieve physical pain. However, it is completely true and many studies back it up.
For example, according to a 2012 study on Personality and Individual Differences , grateful people experience less pain and report feeling healthier than other people.
Gratitude stimulates the release of dopamine, and this can also help improve physical pain. That’s because dopamine is a neurotransmitter that plays an important role in pain processing. Its analgesic effect is great.
In addition, research in general has shown that grateful people are also more interested in taking care of their health. In fact, people who practice gratitude are more likely to exercise and are more likely to have themselves medically examined. This probably improves their life expectancy.
When it comes to physical health, gratitude can lower blood pressure and improve the immune system. In addition, gratitude is associated with higher levels of HDL cholesterol (‘good’ cholesterol) and lower levels of LDL cholesterol (‘bad’ cholesterol).
There is also a link between gratitude and a drop in creatinine, an indicator of the kidney’s ability to filter waste from the bloodstream. Being grateful also reduces levels of C-reactive protein, a clear signal of heart inflammation and heart disease.
Gratitude is good for your night’s sleep
One of the reasons gratitude improves both emotional and physical well-being is that it significantly improves sleep quality. Numerous scientific studies on gratitude have come to the same conclusion: gratitude improves sleep quality, decreases the time it takes to fall asleep, and extends sleep duration.
As we mentioned earlier, sleep is one of many vital aspects controlled by the hypothalamus. Gratitude activates this. Sleep is linked to many bodily functions, and is important for a strong immune system. However, our sleep can be disrupted by things like anxiety, depression, pain, and stress.
The key, then, is to distract our minds when we try to fall asleep. If you are worried or anxious, the stress in your body increases, reducing your quality of sleep.
But if you think about everything you are grateful for, your thoughts will relax you. That way you fall asleep better.
Gratefully relieves stress
When you sleep better, you will be more relaxed. Not only is this good for our mental health, but also for our hearts and nervous systems, as it helps us cope better with stress.
A 2007 study on the benefits of gratitude in people with hypertension showed a significant decrease in their systolic blood pressure. What the subjects did was list the things they were grateful for once a week.
This study also found that keeping a “thank you journal” can lower blood pressure by 10 percent. Other studies have shown that gratitude helps reduce cortisol, the stress hormone. It is also linked to a greater heart rate variation ratio, which allows us to better resist temptation and stress.
Gratitude has also been shown to make us more resistant to trauma and stressful events. In other words, grateful people recover better after trauma.
Gratitude is good for anxiety and depression
Numerous studies on the benefits of practicing gratitude have shown that keeping a gratitude journal, or writing and sending thank you notes, can increase our long-term happiness by more than ten percent.
A 2005 study found that keeping a gratitude journal also provides relief from depression.
Another more recent study found that significant behavioral changes could be observed in all individuals with anxiety and depression who wrote thank you letters.
In addition, MRIs showed that not only was there an increase in neural modulation, due to changes in the medial prefrontal cortex, but they were also better able to handle negative emotions (such as guilt) and more willing to respond. to be helpful, empathetic and friendly.
Another study, conducted in 2012 by Chinese researchers, found that gratitude has a profound effect on sleep, with very positive implications for people with anxiety and depression.
In people with depression, it was observed that the lower depression scores did not depend on the amount of sleep and sleep quality, but rather on gratitude, regardless of the duration or quality of sleep. This suggests that gratitude reduces the symptoms of depression.
However, in the subjects who suffered from anxiety, sleep was associated with a reduction in their symptoms. This led to the conclusion that the lower anxiety scores were the result of sound sleep. Because gratitude led to a better night’s sleep, it also led, albeit indirectly, to a reduction in anxiety.
Being grateful gives you energy
It should therefore come as no surprise that gratitude makes us stronger, both physically and mentally. On the one hand, gratitude makes us healthier. And on the other hand, it helps us to be more optimistic and gives us energy.
Research on gratitude has repeatedly shown that grateful people have higher energy levels and are more relaxed. They are happier and healthier. Hence the conclusion that gratitude has the potential to extend our productive lives.