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Mental Health

Researchers Say Expressing Gratitude Can Improve Health

— December 13, 2023

A grateful mindset can help improve mood, sleep, and overall well-being, according to experts.

The power of the mindset that people carry through life is only proving to be more and more important as science learns more about the impact that positive thinking can have on overall wellness. Specifically, the practice of expressing gratitude – consistently showing appreciation and thanks for the things that one has in life – has shown to be associated with a number of positive health outcomes. This kind of exercise is easy to dismiss as being feel-good rather than concrete, but the evidence keeps showing that a gratitude mindset is extremely valuable.

Perhaps one of the most surprising things about expressing gratitude is that it is proving to have a positive physical impact on human beings, which is a result that many might not expect. Sure, it’s easy enough to understand how thinking positively and being grateful for things in life could lead to positive emotions like happiness, and even lowered stress, but the connection to physical symptoms is something that should be noted with even more emphasis.

As an example, it has been seen that showing gratitude on a regular basis can be connected with a lower heart rate. Of course, heart health is a major issue for millions of Americans, and the drug industry around protecting heart health is a massive business with revenues in the billions. So, it’s almost shocking that something as simple (and free) as a practice of gratitude could successfully bring down heart rate. That doesn’t mean that gratitude alone is enough to replace modern medicine, of course, but using all tools available is likely the best strategy.

Researchers Say Expressing Gratitude Can Improve Health
Photo by George Dolgikh from Pexels

Another physical boost that might be seen along with expressing gratitude is the ability to get better sleep. Those who are stressed and are feeling negative about life in general can struggle to get good rest at night – which is a vicious cycle, as not getting good sleep is an issue that can lead to more health problems, and the cycle can continue around and around. If something as relatively easy as thinking positively and showing thanks in life can turn it all in the other direction, it’s a no-brainer to give it a try.

Once someone is sleeping better, the cycle can work in the other way and help them to feel better in many other areas. Good sleep can help to support positive mental and physical health, and it’s easier to maintain a positive outlook on the world when someone is rested rather than fatigued.

For most people, a simple gratitude practice will be the way to go. A simple routine is one that is more likely to be consistent, as if it takes too long or gets in the way of other activities, people are more than likely going to give it up quickly after getting started. Journaling and meditation are two great ways to approach showing thanks for what someone has in life, and the two practices can even be blended to create something that feels right for the individual. This process can be done first thing in the morning, right before bed, or even during a lunch break. As long as the individual focuses on the task and really invests mentally in what is being done, the benefits can be many.


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