December 08, 2022

Health benefits of gratitude

5 ways to show thanks

GREENVILLE, Iowa — It doesn’t have to be Thanksgiving to show gratitude for the good things in life.

According to “The Health Benefits of Gratitude” from PIH Health, focusing on good things may improve your mental and physical health.

“When you’re in those tough moments, take a positive conscience deep breath to engage in the moment to be thankful,” said Linda Emanuel, registered nurse at AgriSafe Network.

“I invite you each day to take a couple of moments to just breathe in and out gratitude. Gratitude is a gift to yourself, and it allows you to be present in the moment.”

Whether you’re thankful for something that happened in your past or present, or you are remaining optimistic about the future — there are opportunities to focus on the good.

Five Ways To Show Gratitude

1. Keep a journal or list to note what you’re grateful for, whether it’s something big or small.

2. When things are hard, take a moment to think of what you can be grateful for in the situation. Deal with the negative by focusing on the positive.

3. Start or end each day by thinking about one thing you’re grateful for.

4. Tell someone how special they are to you or how thankful you are for something they’ve done.

5. Write a note or send a gift to someone to let them know how much they mean to you.

Expressing gratitude has many benefits, including:

• Mental health benefits — When you are grateful, you feel positive emotions that release dopamine, the feel-good chemicals in your brain. This helps ward off mental health issues like stress, anxiety and depression.

• Physical health benefits — Studies show that people of all ages who consider themselves to be grateful have fewer health issues than those who don’t. More research is needed because it isn’t clear whether gratefulness results in better health or better health results in gratefulness. But either way, those who express gratitude had fewer headaches, respiratory infections and gastrointestinal issues, along with healthier hearts.

• Better sleep — If positive, grateful thoughts are running through your head as you try to fall asleep rather than a replay of stressful events, you’re more likely to fall asleep and sleep more soundly.

• Boosted self-esteem — When you feel grateful, you’re more likely to think of yourself in a more positive light because you’re less likely to compare yourself to others.

• Stronger relationships — When you express feelings of gratitude to other people, you’re also more empowered to talk about any concerns you may have about your relationship.

All of this may result in stronger and more trusting relationships, with both participants feeling valued.

Erica Quinlan

Erica Quinlan

Field Editor