It seems that every November people start talking about gratitude, and rightly so, it is the month of Thanksgiving. However, discussions of gratitude, and all of its wellness benefits are actually worth talking about all year long.
Harvard Medical School published an article, article “In Praise of Gratitude,” which discussed the many health benefits of gratitude. The article stated, “Expressing thanks may be one of the simplest ways to feel better.”
In the past decade, mountains of positive psychology research has shown that gratitude is associated with physical, psychological and social benefits. Following are just few of the beneficial findings from the countless studies on the science of gratitude.
Psychological Wellbeing. Evidence shows that gratitude leads to more positive emotion, such as happiness, pleasure, joy, resilience, and optimism. Suicidal inpatients had an 88 per cent reduction in feelings of hopelessness and their optimism levels increased by 94 per cent after writing letters of gratitude.
Stress reduction. Gratitude is shown to lower stress hormones (such as cortisol) by 23 per cent. Furthermore, health-care providers who kept a gratitude diary for two weeks experienced a sustained decrease in perceived stress by 28 per cent and decrease in depression by 16 per cent. Teenagers too have shown a decrease in stress when involved in regular gratitude practices.
Improved Physical Health. Participants who practiced daily exercises in gratitude (such as keeping a gratitude journal and/or expressing gratitude to others) experienced a host of health benefits, such as lower blood pressure and stronger immune systems.
Improved Sleep. Patients with chronic pain (including 76 per cent who suffered from insomnia) experienced a 10 per cent improvement in the quality of their sleep. They also experienced a 19 percent reduction in their levels of depression.
Self-esteem, willpower, relationships, creativity, and spirituality are all shown to increase with regular practices of gratitude.
Athletic and academic performance also have been scientifically tested and shown to improve with gratitude interventions.
Evidences of Improved Relationships have also been discovered as researchers have performed studies on the effects of gratitude in marriage and other long-term relationships.
Decreased loneliness in participants has also been shown in gratitude studies.
The science of gratitude confirms that gratitude is not just for the month of November, rather it is a way of life. It’s the virtue that keeps on giving, through good times, and difficult times, even during pandemics. So, when life feels hard, and uncertainty looms ahead, remember that research shows that an attitude of gratitude (and actions of gratitude) can help you find joy in the journey, optimism for the future, and increased health and wellness for both today and in the days and years to come.