Gratitude Can Improve Health and Resiliency
So what is Gratitude?
The word “gratitude” comes from the Latin root gradia meaning gratefulness or grace. Gratitude is not easy to define but generally is a quality, action, emotion or feeling toward something else or received from someone else in thanks or appreciation. Gratitude is an emotional state based on empathy in which a benefit or kindness (for oneself, another or even the world) is appreciated in an act or experience.
The practice of becoming aware of examples of gratitude during the day can you help you appreciate the little things, the small yet precious moments.
These moments of appreciation are appreciated by our body and mind- better health and enhanced wellbeing!
Gratitude Improves Health and Wellbeing
- Reduce blood pressure
- Reduce inflammation in the body
- Reduce pain
- Improve depression
- Improve wellbeing such as life’s meaning, achievements, optimism and resilience
- Improve sense of wellbeing even in the setting of a progressive and fatal disease like ALS
Journaling is an easy way to increase gratitude
Journaling encourages daily reflection and is an effective exercise for personal development. Keeping a gratitude journal means that you will write (or record) a daily record of what you are grateful for. It is different than a diary that focuses on daily activities or what you did for the day. This is an important part of gratitude journaling but journaling includes much more. There is also something very important about writing it down rather than simply thinking about it.
Journaling can help you see the positive and the possibilities, manage the difficult times and uncertainties about the future. Maintaining a sense of gratitude is an important focus of journaling.
For some gratitude is a way of life. For others, a journaling practice helps increase sense of gratitude. Practicing gratitude can help you deal with life’s problems by finding a sense of meaning, place, contentment and purpose even when dealing with setbacks associated with chronic disease. Gratitude can counter emotional symptoms of depression, help maintain a positive outlook, enhance resiliency and open the door to creative and effective solutions when problems exist. Researchers studied people with neuromuscular disease, a group of conditions that can cause weakness, muscle paralysis, breathing, walking, speaking and swallowing problems. The group was instructed to keep a 21-day journal recording their sense of wellbeing and global assessment of their day. Half the group was also asked to include a record of what they were grateful for each day. The group that focused on gratitude reported a more positive affect, reduced negative affect and even improved sleep. This finding is powerful since this is a fatal condition with significant disability (a condition that you would expect would not allow its suffers to find any gratitude.)
Start your Gratitude Practice Today
This practice will:
- Give you focus. Organizing thoughts, events, priorities and expectations helps you focus and reach our goals.
- Give you quality time forintrospection. Think of this time as your quality time. Time to think about what is important to you, your wants, desires, successes, disappointments, fears and struggles
- Time for self-exploration and introspection. Journaling brings meaning to the simple and everyday experiences.
- Emotionally heal. Life can give you ups and downs. Journaling is one way to help you and your family or loved ones through the bad times and chronicle the good times. It can help you process your emotions and deal with daily stress. For some, journaling can improve mood and stress.
- Therapeutic. People that experience emotional or stressful events but do not express, share or communicate their emotions, otherwise called type D personality, may be at increased risk for health problems. Journaling is especially helpful for people with distressful experiences, chronic conditions or caregivers that tend to hold things in and tend not to discuss their issues, concerns or emotions.
- Creates a legacy of your life story. Create a family keepsake for future generations to enjoy.
Journaling may not be for everyone. Talk to your healthcare provider to see if it is right for you, especially if you suffer from serious depression, anxiety or other psychiatric conditions as journaling can bring deep-seated emotions to the surface.
Get Started Today
- Make a commitment. Commit 10 to 15 minutes a day or at least a few times a week to journaling.
- Develop a routine. Like any daily task, it is helpful to develop a routine perhaps journaling the same time every day. Night-time can be a good time since you can reflect back on the day’s events
- Keep a Journal. Write down 3 things each day you are grateful for and any new goals or future actions they encourage
- Be genuine. Write honestly and be open about your feelings and thoughts. Include something big or small that you are grateful for each day. Decide whether you would like to keep your entries private or use it as an opportunity to open up discussion or dialogue with family, friends or your clinicians.
Gratitude and Health: An updated review. The Journal of Positive Psychology 2019