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Can Gratitude Really Improve Your Health?

When the clock strikes November, Facebook feeds across the country typically fill up with talk of getting grateful, giving thanks, and being mindful of even the smallest blessings. Your friends and family might tout the health benefits of gratitude, encouraging you to put it all to paper—some might even challenge you to post about it daily for the entire month. But can cultivating an attitude of gratitude really improve your health and wellbeing? Research says yes. 

3 Ways Gratitude Can Improve Your Health and Wellbeing 

 

1. Grateful Heart Patients May Have Lower Levels of Inflammation

In a study published in 2015, researchers looked at a group of participants with asymptomatic heart failure.1  They noted those who expressed more gratitude also had lower levels of inflammatory biomarkers in their blood. Which means, regularly giving thanks could be a simple way to reduce inflammation and support cardiovascular health.

2. Gratitude May Improve Blood Glucose Regulation

Research published in the American Journal of Health Behavior shows participants with type 2 diabetes who practice dispositional mindfulness (i.e. they spend time focusing on the positive aspects of their lives daily) see an improvement in blood glucose levels.2  Although follow-up research is needed to fully explain the connection, getting grateful could be a safe, natural way to support healthy blood sugar levels.

3. Gratitude Journaling May Reduce Anxiety

Writing down what you’re grateful for can be a helpful tool for managing stress and anxiety. According to a paper published in the Journal of Happiness Studies, when men and women documented daily moments of gratitude for two weeks, they reported feeling less anxious and more connected to others.3

Whether you reach for pen and paper or go public with social media posts, consider starting your own daily gratitude practice—your body, mind, and spirit just might thank you!

 

References:

1 Paul J. Mills, Laura Redwine, Kathleen Wilson, Meredith A. Pung, Kelly Chinh, Barry H. Greenberg, Ottar Lunde, Alan Maisel, Ajit Raisinghani, Alex Wood, Deepak Chopra. The role of gratitude in spiritual well-being in asymptomatic heart failure patientsSpirituality in Clinical Practice, 2015; 2 (1): 5 DOI: 10.1037/scp0000050

2 Loucks, Eric B.; Gilman, Stephen E.; Britton, Willoughby B.; Gutman, Roee; Eaton, Charles B.; Buka, Stephen L. Associations of Mindfulness with Glucose Regulation and DiabetesAmerican Journal of Health Behavior, February 2016 DOI: 10.5993/AJHB.40.2.11

3 Kerr, S.L., O’Donovan, A. & Pepping, C.A. Can Gratitude and Kindness Interventions Enhance Well-Being in a Clinical Sample? Journal of Happiness Studies (2015) 16: 17 DOI: 10.1007/s10902-013-9492-1