“Gratitude “is a quality of thankfulness. It’s something you intentionally choose to focus on and practice, which means you don’t just feel it; you do something about it.”
So what are the results when we do something about our gratitude? In this week’s blog we uncover the results of this important practice.
1. Improves Physical Health
A 2013 study published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences found more grateful people were more likely to report better physical health. The study concluded that those who practiced gratitude were more mindful of their overall health, so were more likely to exercise and seek help if something concerned them physically or mentally.
Further, Another study from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) analyzed blood flow across various regions of the brain while participants expressed feelings of gratitude and found that individuals who showed more gratitude experienced higher levels of activity in the hypothalamus, the part of the brain that controls major bodily functions such as eating, drinking, sleeping, your metabolism, and stress responses. (Source.)
A simple practice of gratitude is directly linked to better overall health, life experience, and also longevity.
2. Enhances Well Being and Emotional Health
The University of Berkeley conducted a study involving 300 adults, primarily college students seeking mental health counseling at their university. Before their first counseling session they were interviewed for the study and reported low mental health and high rates of anxiety/depression. The participants were separated into groups, with only one group instructed to write gratitude letters. The results found:
“Those who wrote gratitude letters reported significantly better mental health four weeks and 12 weeks after their writing exercise ended. This suggests that gratitude writing can be beneficial not just for healthy, well-adjusted individuals, but also for those who struggle with mental health concerns. In fact, it seems, practicing gratitude on top of receiving psychological counseling carries greater benefits than counseling alone, even when that gratitude practice is brief.”
Surprisingly, this study found that practicing gratitude coupled with mental health counseling in fact improved the work these individuals were doing with their licensed doctors versus those who participated in mental health appointments without a gratitude practice.