| Ruth Biza
There are endless benefits to expressing gratitude. While gratitude does always come easy, when practiced regularly one can experience several benefits like better sleep, reduced stress, increased productivity, positive emotions and genuine happiness, better health and better overall outlook on life.
Cultivating gratitude moves beyond saying your daily thank yous and and showing appreciation for the material possessions that we believe make us happy. Cultivating gratitude is looking and living from the inside out.
While the research is backed by science, there are still those who believe otherwise so if you’re still on the fence about the benefits of gratitude, you’re probably not alone; the goal of the blog is to highlight a few benefits and include resources for your personal ongoing research.
The Physical Benefits of Gratitude
Improved physical health. According to a research published in Personality and Individual Difference, “grateful people experience fewer aches and pains and they report feeling healthier than other people”. People who express gratitude are more likely to take care of themselves, adopt positive exercise and eating habits, and prioritize healthy check-ups which can contribute to longevity in the long run.
Better sleep. An extra hour would be great!
Gratitude activates the parasympathetic branch of our nervous system, which is responsible for our relaxation response. Hence why gratitude is believed to reduce the amount of time required to fall asleep so consider writing down a few grateful feelings before bed and you may sleep soundly and longer.
Reduced stress. Gratitude doesn't ask that we remain cheerful in all things or repeat magic words and all things negative will turn positive. Gratitude certainly doesn't endorse denial of stress and frustration it simply invites us to take a moment to reflect on the good in the midst of our daily stressors so we can appreciate that more.
Consistency is key to reaping the physical health benefits of expressing gratitude; there are many tools today that make practicing gratitude easier and more appealing such as Headspace, Happify, RealLifeChange, My Gratitude Journal and This is My Era Planner, which has designated sections dedicated to gratitude. It’s never been simpler to stick with this habit.
The Psychological Benefits of Gratitude
Reduces anxiety and depression: Simple gratitude practices like journaling, saying thank you, and writing have been praised for reducing anxiety and depression and in the long term increase happiness. Psychologically, gratitude shifts the attention from oneself to the good they can do for others which can improve one’s mood.
Improves mood: Furthermore, gratitude can help you feel a little better regardless of your circumstances which can help you feel better about yourself. Ever heard the expression “negative emotions are poisonous” well gratitude releases us from toxic emotions that eat away the good surrounding us.
The Relational Benefits of Showing Gratitude
Increases likeability: If showing gratitude helps us sleep better, feel better, and make us more emotionally balanced, then it would make sense that gratitude will elevate the quality of relationship we have with others. A published study in Social Psychology and Personality Science journal proposed that gratitude enhances empathy, and in turn, reduces aggression. Empathy allows us to be sensitive to the experiences of others and helps facilitate prosocial behaviors which make us more likable.
Improves quality of romantic relationships: In addition to improved social interactions, gratitude towards one's romantic partner enhances the quality in the relationship by making your partner feel good about themselves and the overall status of the relationship.
Reaping all the benefits of gratitude takes time and effort. In many cases showing gratitude towards others may not be reciprocated, but feeling good, and improving your self esteem is a far better reward than the acknowledgment.
You’ve decided you want to cultivate gratitude and take action towards becoming the best version of yourself. So how do you turn gratitude into action?
Firstly, make cultivating gratitude hard to forget and easy to carry out.
Develop simple routines like:
- Creating a reminder to journal and appreciate the great things around you.
- Being intentional - leave trinkets or notes around reminding you to start your day by reflecting on the good. It could be a quote or poem posted on your refrigerator, mirror, or desk.
- Surrounding yourself with positive people
- Giving back
- Getting inspired
- Saying THANK YOU!
Showing gratitude doesn’t have to be complicated. Don’t mess with a routine that is already working for you. Instead, work this new habit into your daily schedule. Getting started might not be perfect, but with time it will feel automatic and you’ll start to see how it increases your overall well being.