Thanksgiving All Year: How Gratitude Can Make You Healthier

If you’re familiar with our Vancouver WA chiropractic office, Family & Sports Chiropractic, you already know that we care about the whole health of our clients. We want to help you achieve the best version of health possible for you!

As we now approach the holiday season, many of us start to think about all the things that we have to be thankful for. But did you know that practicing an attitude of gratitude all year round can actually make you healthier!?

How gratitude can improve your life- Family & Sports ChiropracticBefore we dive in here, let’s examine exactly what gratitude encompasses. Gratitude is an appreciation and thankfulness for the things that you receive, whether those things are tangible or intangible. By expressing or acknowledging your gratitude, even just internally, you intentionally acknowledge the ‘good’ in your life.

Improving your life through gratitude

According to many studies, being grateful for the positives in your life can help you to improve your physical and psychological health, your relationships, and even your sleep and self-esteem.

One Forbes article states that “grateful people experience fewer aches and pains and they report feeling healthier than other people.” They exercise more often than people that don’t practice being gratitude and generally practice better self-care.

Gratitude also increases your emotional well-being by reducing toxic thoughts. Focusing on the positives in your life keeps those emotions front and center in your consciousness. The research of Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D., a leading gratitude researcher, confirms that gratitude “effectively increases happiness and reduces depression.”

Thankfulness improving your life - Family and Sports ChiropracticAnother article citing many different studies, states that “gratitude generates social capital.” Expressing your gratefulness in your relationships, whether with friends or loved ones, increases their positive association with you. Gratitude essentially makes us more social, more trusting, and nicer. This builds reciprocal feelings and bonds us to our friends and loved ones more deeply. It also opens us up to seeking out and building a larger number of friendships. So more friendships and better friendships.

The Forbes article continues on to note that people which exercise gratitude before bed often experience better sleep. Likely, this is due to keeping those positive thoughts foremost in our brains so that we’re able to relax into a deeper and more relaxing sleep. Some studies even showed that grateful people were able to fall asleep faster and get more sleep than those not practicing the gratitude exercises.

Appreciating others’ accomplishments helps us to increase our own self-esteem. Studies have shown that gratitude reduces social comparisons. Rather than resenting people who are “more successful”, practice being grateful for your own accomplishments and also congratulatory for the successes of those around you. Express gratitude to a coworker that stopped their own work to answer a question or help you with a task.

Easy activities to practice gratitude

How gratitude can improve your health- Family and Sports ChiropracticSo you may be wondering what one must do to ‘practice gratitude’? Given all these benefits to your health and well-being, you’re likely ready to start practicing gratefulness.

A Harvard Health Publishing article states that “gratitude is a way for people to appreciate what they have instead of always reaching for something new in the hopes it will make them happier, or thinking they can’t feel satisfied until every physical and material need is met. Gratitude helps people refocus on what they have instead of what they lack. And, although it may feel contrived at first, this mental state grows stronger with use and practice.”

Here are some easy tactics to practice expressing your gratitude:

  • Keep a gratitude journal- This can be an elaborate and aesthetically pleasing professionally bound journal or a simple spiral bound notebook. Whatever you’re going to use for your journal, commit to writing down daily all the things you’re grateful for. As little as 5-15 minutes per day or focusing on your gratitude and writing it down can produce these wellness benefits. Some people choose to journal as the last activity of the day before going to bed – this can help with settling your mind on positive thoughts and can help with getting to sleep on a positive note.
  • Write a thank-you card- Try writing and sending, or hand-delivering, a thank-you note every week or month. Write this to somebody in your life that you feel you haven’t expressed enough gratitude to. This will undoubtedly brighten their day and will help you feel lighter and positive.
  • Practice a mental gratefulness session- If you cannot send a physical note, or for any reason don’t want to or are unable to reach out, any time you feel gratitude for somebody, take a moment to recognize and acknowledge that act with mental gratitude. This can give you many benefits even if that person never ‘receives’ your gratitude.
  • Meditation with a focus on gratitude- Practicing mindfulness has been proven time and time again to improve the lives of those that habituate the activity. This is very similar to practicing gratitude and the two can be intertwined for additional benefit.

Approaching Thanksgiving, it is easy to start getting into the habit of acknowledging your gratitude. This year, as we continue on and then into next year, try to establish an attitude of gratitude to carry through all the seasons. You’ll reap the benefits of a more positive life and that’s what we want for all of our clients.