Thanksgiving: 4 Ways Gratitude Can Help You Overcome Stress

This Thursday, November 25th marks Thanksgiving in the USA; an age-old celebration of the pilgrims’ voyage to America. The holiday is not just about turkey and stuffing, but also expressing gratitude. As a healthcare worker, I’ve noticed that gratitude can have hugely positive health outcomes, and the more intense the better – I mean, you can never be TOO grateful, can you? Just imagine if everyone was OCD about being grateful? Anyway, what are the benefits and how can we reap them? Follow on below to find out in Thanksgiving: 4 Ways Gratitude Can Help You Overcome Stress!

1. Gratitude Can Improve Sleep

While it may seem like a no-brainer, there is actually scientific evidence that practicing gratitude can improve sleep. According to the Journal of Psychosomatic Research, feeling grateful can help extend and improve sleep, most likely due to the positive thoughts it produces.

When you think positive, the nervous system is soothed and sleep improves! If you are finding it hard to sleep, we recommend writing in some kind of a journal or logbook regularly!

2. Gratitude Can Improve Depression Symptoms

While depression is nothing to take lightly, science has shown that a simple gratitude exercise can have lasting effects on the mind! The mental health profession has often used an exercise named “3 Good Things”, in which a person describes three positive things that happen daily.

It has been shown that a simple gratitude practice such as this can result in considerable improvements over depression and overall happiness! Here’s a journal that can help you incorporate this practice into your daily routine!

3. Gratitude & Heart Health

Though it seems far-fetched, gratitude can actually have a positive impact on your cardiac health!

Science has shown that heart rate variability is improved among those who express appreciation on a regular basis. Heart rate variability is a good indicator of heart health; hearts that have a wider pulse range are considered healthier.

Gratitude journals in particular have been shown to lower blood pressure in those who previously did not practice gratitude, or have underappreciated things or people in their life.

In addition, gratefulness practices have been linked to factors like better sleep and reduced stress, which can prevent further decline in heart failure patients.

4. Gratitude & Stress

Though stress is a broad term, it is linked to many physical ailments. Heart disease, acid reflux, headaches, mental illness, and cancer are just a few of the illnesses which link directly to stress.

Therefore, if we can use a tool like gratitude to lower our stress levels, we can decrease our risk or the worsening of chronic disease. Not only that – gratitude can help one cope with stress.

Those who practice gratitude tend to find the silver lining in bad circumstances, are able to actively cope and plan in the midst of stress and crisis. They are even less likely to reach out for comfort substances that only ‘pseudo deal’ with stress for short term relief but only actually cause long term pain.

It’s clear that being intensely grateful has many positive, long-term health implications!

Need a Little More Inspiration? Here are 3 Practical Tips to Get You Started!

  • Think of one person you’re grateful for when you wake up and before going to sleep!
  • Practice meditation once a day – it can be as simple as closing your eyes for a minute, taking deep breaths, and thinking of things you’re grateful for.
  • Write a grateful note! If someone has done something you found thoughtful, it’s a great exercise to write a thank you note. Not only will it help you feel better, it’s likely to brighten that person’s day, as well!

How do you practice gratitude? Do you find it hard to be grateful? Do you have any experience with health benefits coming out of gratitude practices that you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments below, and join in the conversation on FacebookTwitter & Instagram!

Miranda Srivastava

Miranda Srivastava is an Oncology Nurse from New York City. She currently works at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, a prestigious institution in the US dedicated to excellent Oncology care. In her free time, Miranda loves to run. She is an advocate for exercise's effects on both mental and physical health.

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