Health Benefits of Practicing Gratitude

Gratitude is more than a simple “thank you” muttered at the grocery store while paying the cashier. It’s a practice of holding a feeling of thankfulness in your everyday life. Taking the time to be intentionally grateful can improve your mental and physical health. Here’s what you need to know about the health benefits of practicing gratitude and tips on how to embrace the power of this often-overlooked emotion.

Why Is Gratitude So Powerful?

Gratitude is a complex emotion, and it has the power to interrupt turbulent emotions and stress. Feeling grateful doesn’t happen instantaneously. You have to pause and widen your perspective while thinking about your life. 

In that moment of calm, your body and mind get a much-needed break. When you do this regularly, you can reap the important health benefits of gratitude. 

One of the health benefits of practicing gratitude is enhanced memory and a boost in mood.

The Health Benefits of Gratitude

Recent research suggests that being grateful improves both mental and physical health. Here’s a breakdown of the health benefits of practicing gratitude.

Reduce Stress

Stress is a major culprit when it comes to causing the onset of health issues. Practicing gratitude can help you reduce the load that stress puts on your nervous system.

When you enter a fight, flight, or freeze state, your nervous system works overtime to compensate. Practicing gratitude helps calm your mind, which in turn evens your breathing out and reduces your heart rate. By focusing on what you are thankful for, you can reduce your diastolic blood pressure and, in turn, improve your heart health.

Boost Mood

It’s natural to feel worried and down some of the time, but you also need to experience rest, comfort, and contentment. One of the most powerful benefits of practicing gratitude is that it can relieve symptoms of depression and anxiety. 

Writing down or reflecting on what you are thankful for is a proven way to shift your thought patterns away from the painful past to the hopeful present. Being grateful is an instant way to boost your mood.

Decrease Pain

In addition to improving your mental health, being thankful can also help minimize physical pain. Research suggests that grateful people tend to treat their bodies better, exercise more, and eat a more nutritional diet. As a result, they are less likely to experience inflammation that can lead to aches and pains.

Improve Sleep 

There is a strong connection between feeling grateful and being optimistic about life, and that link is the key to getting better sleep. If you end your day with thoughts of what went right and what you’re thankful for, you may fall asleep faster and experience more restful and restorative sleep.

Enhance Memory

It’s natural for older adults to experience frequent or occasional problems with memory. Fortunately, reflecting on what you’re thankful for can help you maintain a healthy connection to the past and the present. 

For example, one of the benefits of practicing gratitude is that you notice and keep track of details, such as what you did over the weekend or what you had for lunch. The more you train your brain to recall things, the easier it is to improve your memory.

Develop Strong Relationships

When you practice gratitude, you see the good in the world and the people around you. Being thankful for the people in your life can help strengthen your relationships.

People tend to be drawn to optimism and confidence. Practicing gratitude benefits your social wellness by infusing your daily life with these qualities. Other people will want to be around you more often when you’re positive and thankful.

One of the benefits of practicing gratitude is improved relationships.

Increase Spiritual Connection

Many older adults want to enrich their lives with meaning and find that having a spiritual connection makes them feel more satisfied with their everyday lives. One of the benefits of practicing gratitude is that it can help deepen your spiritual connection. Gratitude can fill your life with faith, hope, and meaning.

Build Self-Esteem

Older adults are more likely to feel confident and have high self-esteem when they adopt a mindset of gratitude. While feeling negative and low can lead to a lack of good hygiene and diminished self-esteem, being thankful can do the opposite.

Tips for How To Practice Gratitude in Your Daily Life

Developing a vibrant gratitude practice is easier than you think. Here are the best ways to add this activity to your daily routine: 

  • Fill out a gratitude journal before bed
  • Tell at least one person what you feel thankful for
  • Spend five minutes meditating on what makes you grateful
  • Keep a gratitude jar on your kitchen counter
  • Go for a gratitude walk around your neighborhood
  • Volunteer in a community that has supported you in the past
  • Create art that represents your feelings of gratitude

Your gratitude practice should reflect your personality, interests, and where you are in life. When noting down what you are grateful for, be as detailed and specific as possible.

Remember that practicing gratitude isn’t about ignoring challenges and hardship. It’s about embracing unexpected moments of beauty and building internal resources of resilience and strength. 

What Happens When You Practice Gratitude Every Day?

Developing a gratitude mindset doesn’t happen overnight. To enjoy the long-term benefits of this practice, you have to do it every day.

The more consistent you are with your gratitude practice, the more you’ll experience the upsides of being grateful, which are:

  • Better sleep
  • Improved self-esteem
  • Less stress
  • Lower anxiety
  • More meaningful relationships

It’s not always easy to feel thankful, but once it becomes a habit, your gratitude practice will feel second nature to you.

Embrace the Benefits of Practicing Gratitude in a Like-Minded Community

Being part of a community is a great way to focus on your mental and physical health, and it can even inspire you to find more things to be grateful for. You can embrace the benefits of practicing gratitude by living in and among like-minded people. 

At Elder Care Alliance, our senior living communities empower older adults to live every day to the fullest. With amenities, activities, social programs, and a calm and peaceful environment, you can continue to thrive while meeting other people who share your interests and values. Schedule a visit to our facilities and discover the difference holistic care makes.

For help or more information contact us or schedule a visit at a location today.