By Pauline Marie Buller, BS, NCTMB, CMLDT, CPMT, CIMT
Gratitude takes practice, but we do get better at it over time. Building it into our daily routine is important because thankfulness is one of the many components of a healthy spirit, mind and body. As the research studies below demonstrate, there is an association between gratitude and well-being.
- A 2007 study published in the Journal of Research in Personality found that there is a relationship between gratitude and well-being and stated that “gratitude is uniquely important to well-being and social life.”
- A 2012 study from a group of Chinese researchers looked at the combined effects of gratitude and sleep quality on symptoms of anxiety and depression. They found that higher levels of gratitude were associated with better sleep and lower levels of anxiety and depression.
- At the University of Connecticut, researchers found that gratitude has a protective effect against heart attacks.
- According to psychologist and author Robert Emmons of the University of California-Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, gratitude strengthens the immune system, lowers blood pressure, reduces symptoms of illness, increases resistance to pain, correlates with better exercise habits, and encourages us to take better care of our health.
- Gratitude can also aid in recovering more quickly when you have health issues. In a study of organ recipients, scholars from the University of California-Davis and the Mississippi University for Women found that patients who journal about their appreciation scored better on measures of mental health, general health and vitality than those who keep only routine notes about their days.
Techniques for enhancing gratitude are relatively simple to incorporate into your routine. November is an especially good time to practice being thankful. As we move toward the holidays, extend your thanks-giving with these simple techniques for gratitude and well-being.
How to incorporate gratitude into your routines:
- As you wake each day, be grateful for lessons learned and mindful as you go about your day.
- While you are eating a meal, be grateful for your food by savoring each piece with all your senses.
- Each time you exercise, be conscious of and grateful for what your muscles allow you to do.
- As you go about your day, whether at work or at home, notice and acknowledge the many reasons you are fortunate. Be grateful to be where you are.
- When you’ve completed a challenging task in your day, be grateful by treating yourself to a simple foot massage or a few minutes of relaxation and quiet.
- Say thank you to those around you more often.
- At the end of each day, journal all the things for which you are grateful and celebrate being just who you are.
Pauline Marie Buller, NCTMB, is an integrative health practitioner with the Penny George Institute for Health and Healing. She provides integrative health services to inpatients at St. Francis Regional Medical Center in Shakopee, Minn., through a partnership with the Penny George Institute.