Gratitude has entered the health and wellness conversation over the past decade in a big way. Research continues to connect gratitude to impressive health benefits and many people are consciously making it a habit in their everyday lives. But can gratitude actually improve your health? And how can you practice it in ways that give you the most benefits?
How can gratitude impact your health?
This area of study is relatively new, but findings so far are promising. In fact, preliminary research suggests that people who regularly practice gratitude may experience health benefits like:
- Better quality sleep
- Improved heart health
- Reduced rates of illness
- Speedier recoveries
- Fewer GI problems
A number of studies, including those that instructed participants to keep a gratitude journal for a period of time, have linked gratitude practices to improvements in conditions like respiratory infections, headaches, colds, acne, and gastrointestinal problems. People in the studies also reported fewer visits to the doctor’s office.
Gratitude practices have also been linked positively with heart health. A 2016 study out of London found that people who kept a gratitude journal for a few weeks ended the study with lower blood pressure than the control group. Another study from the American Psychological Association focused on people with existing health issues, and found that the addition of a gratitude routine resulted in lower rates of fatigue, depression, and systemic inflammation in participants.
Not all studies of this nature yielded positive results, however. Some – mostly those that employed short-term gratitude habits – revealed no major impacts on physical health. The findings suggest that an ongoing gratitude practice may benefit your health more than a short-term one.
What about gratitude’s impact on mental health?
When we talk about health, the attention usually immediately goes to the body. But the mind is another important piece of your overall health that can benefit from a regular gratitude practice. An article published by Harvard Medical School states:
“In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.”
Why is gratitude good for your health?
SteadyMD’s Dr. Seth Larsen had this to say:
“It’s easy to get caught up in daily stressors and forget the good things in your life. It happens to all of us at one time or another, but this negative focus can have consequences for your health. Stress is toxic to the body, and one way to help ameliorate its effects is practicing gratitude. This can shift you back into a positive mindset, ultimately improving your mood and overall health status.”
Another important note is that when people practice gratitude, they tend to engage in other healthy practices as well, such as exercising more and eating healthier. Gratitude’s power to lift your mood, improve your outlook on life, and motivate you to engage in other positive habits will collectively benefit your overall health.
And at SteadyMD, we are grateful for you taking the time to read this article and invest in your own personal health.
Partnering with a doctor who “gets” you & helps you build a health plan focused on the areas of health that are most important to you can also greatly benefit your wellbeing. SteadyMD makes it easy, by pairing you with a doctor based on your individual medical needs, diet, exercise routine, & lifestyle. Take the 90 second quiz to see which doctor would be your ideal match.