Gratitude is more than just a sentiment or buzzword; it’s an attitude and practice.
If you’re feeling stressed, grumpy or depressed, taking a few moments to appreciate the little things in life can really lift your energy level.
Researchers believe that gratitude can promote positive emotions, improve one’s health and enable people to overcome adversity. Furthermore, it promotes prosocial behavior and builds strong interpersonal connections.
1. Increased Energy
Gratitude is one of the most effective tools for changing our mindset and creating positive, helpful emotions. It can shift your nervous system from fight, flight or freeze mode into a state of calmness and relaxation; decreasing fear-based thinking, alleviating symptoms of depression and improving overall mental wellbeing.
Studies have demonstrated that people who regularly practice gratitude report higher levels of positive affect than those who don’t. It has also been linked to physical health benefits like increased energy, lower blood pressure, and improved heart health.
Another study discovered that practicing gratitude can improve focus. It helps you view obstacles as opportunities rather than impending danger, increasing emotional resiliency and the capacity to deal with difficult circumstances.
Practicing gratitude can also enhance your sense of connectedness to others. Expressing your appreciation to friends and family members can improve the quality of your relationships, leading to greater joy in your life.
Studies have also demonstrated that expressing gratitude can increase one’s sense of self-worth, increasing confidence about oneself and inspiring you to pursue new relationships. A stronger sense of self-worth helps combat negative emotions such as anxiety or depression.
Practicing gratitude can range from saying “thank you” to your loved ones or giving them gifts that show how much you care. It could also involve creating a gratitude-centered routine or ritual that encourages you to find more joy and gratitude in everyday life.
2. Better Sleep
Gratitude is an affirming emotion that can transform your life for the better. It strengthens relationships, boosts energy levels and reduces stress levels; plus it aids in sleeping better at night.
One way to express gratitude is by acknowledging those in your life for their kind gestures and support. Call them, send them a text or write them a letter; these kind gestures not only make others feel good but may even improve your own wellbeing as well.
For example, if you know someone who is feeling lonely and depressed, offer to walk them down the street or pick them up from work. Doing this can bring them joy, and hopefully inspire others in your community to do likewise. A chain of kindness that spreads throughout a community has an infectious effect.
One way to improve your mood and sleep is through forgiveness. Holding onto grudges can have detrimental effects on both health and relationships. By forgiving those who have wronged you, you release feelings of anger and frustration from the past and move forward with life.
A study from the University of Manchester has demonstrated that practicing gratitude before bed can make you more likely to fall asleep quickly and stay asleep longer. In fact, 40% of participants reported feeling more rested when they expressed gratitude before turning in for bed.
Make gratitude a habit by creating an evening routine that incorporates it into your bedtime ritual. This could involve writing down things you are thankful for or listening to a short meditation about gratitude before sleeping. With regular practice, this will become part of who you are and help you relax before sleeping.
3. Lower Blood Pressure
By taking time to express gratitude for all that occurs around you, you can feel more at peace and optimistic. Gratitude helps combat negative emotions like envy, resentment and regret by blocking them out of your mind.
Studies have demonstrated that people who express gratitude have lower blood pressure and heart rates than their less thankful counterparts. Furthermore, gratitude improves sleep quality as well as reduces levels of C-reactive protein – an indicator for inflammation linked to heart disease and cognitive decline – in those practicing it.
Exercise gratitude has also been found to increase heart rate variability, a state of mental and physical harmony which can benefit your health and happiness. Furthermore, a recent study has discovered that practicing gratitude may reduce small amounts of stress in people.
According to a study published in Psychophysiology, 68 adults were given an intense stressor and their blood pressure measured before and after. Those who experienced state gratitude – meaning they felt truly thankful rather than just showing it off – experienced lower levels of blood pressure during recovery from this stressor.
Researchers also discovered that people who demonstrated kindness towards others had lower cortisol levels – the stress hormone commonly linked with high blood pressure. Gratitude can reduce cortisol by 23%, making a noticeable difference in how your body responds to stress and pain.
It is no surprise that medical professionals are increasingly incorporating kindness and compassion into their treatments plans. Studies have demonstrated it to be one of the most successful forms of treating anxiety, depression, and other psychiatric conditions. Furthermore, practicing kindness and compassion helps build relationships with others – which can benefit both work-related and personal ones.
4. Reduced Stress
Gratitude can help alleviate stress by stimulating the brain to produce more dopamine and serotonin. These neurotransmitters have been known to regulate moods, behavior, and enhance brain power against negative thoughts. Furthermore, gratitude practice may relax nerves by slowing communication between different areas of the brain.
Similarly, cultivating gratitude in the workplace can reduce work-related stress. It also fosters closer connections among coworkers and improves interpersonal skills as well as management capabilities.
The human brain is wired to focus on the negative, but regular gratitude practice helps combat that bias and promotes a positive outlook. Additionally, gratitude can reduce anxiety and depression by stimulating neural modulation of the prefrontal cortex – responsible for controlling emotions such as guilt, shame and violence – with more focus.
One way gratitude reduces stress is by activating the hippocampus and amygdala, two areas of the brain responsible for emotions, memory and bodily functioning. Furthermore, practicing gratitude may boost levels of dopamine and serotonin within the body which may reduce pain sensations or promote better sleep quality.
Additionally, gratitude can help manage stress in the moment by decreasing cortisol levels in your bloodstream. A study found that participants who took part in an eight-week gratitude journaling intervention experienced lower levels of this stress hormone.
According to a study published in the Journal of Applied Positive Psychology, practicing gratitude can improve mental health and emotional stability. Additionally, it reduces stress, strengthens coping mechanisms, and prevents symptoms related to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or depression.
5. Increased Self-Esteem
Gratitude and kindness have been known to have numerous beneficial effects on the mind, such as relieving depression, anxiety, and stress, improving relationships, and even raising self-esteem and confidence in individuals.
Gratitude and kindness have long been linked to feelings of connection with others. These connections may lead to an increase in oxytocin levels, which have been linked to health benefits as well as happiness.
A study published in Social Psychology and Personality Science revealed that practicing gratitude can benefit patients suffering from congestive heart failure. Those who practiced gratitude had lower biomarkers of inflammation as well as a higher rate of recovery from their condition (UC Davis Health, 2015).
Studies have also demonstrated that people who express gratitude for what they possess tend to work harder and faster than those without. Furthermore, these individuals usually possess a more upbeat outlook on life and find solutions more easily when faced with difficulties.
Small acts of kindness can have a powerful impact on those around us. Not only do these small gestures require minimal time and energy, but they’ll also fill you with joy and satisfaction.
They’re also an excellent way to become involved in your community. You can volunteer at a nearby food pantry, donate clothes to charity, or help out a friend who is struggling.
By helping someone in need, and showing them that you care, you provide them with a huge boost of self-worth and foster trust between both of you.
The study also suggests that online kindness and gratitude interventions can have positive effects on individuals during crises, with effect sizes comparable to prior research. This finding is especially noteworthy since most current literature relies on traditional and face-to-face interventions which may be difficult to deliver during an emergency.