Thanksgiving is one day a year set aside to take the opportunity to reflect on what we’re thankful for. But researchers are finding that incorporating gratitude into your everyday attitude can have many positive effects on our daily lives.
Research shows that when we think about what we appreciate, the parasympathetic or calming part of the nervous system is triggered and that can have protective benefits on the body, including decreasing cortisol levels and perhaps increasing oxytocin, the bonding hormone involved in relationships that make us feel so good.
University of California-Davis study showed that feeling grateful can lower blood pressure, improve immune function and even help you sleep more efficiently, Today reported. And a study from the University of California San Diego’s School of Medicine found that thankfulness reduces cardiac inflammation and leads to healthier heart rhythms.
The study’s author showed that people who were grateful were less depressed, less fatigued and slept better.
Researchers at the universities of Utah and Kentucky found that optimistic people had better immune systems with more disease-fighting cells.
Gratitude also has mental health benefits. A 2104 study published in Emotion found that thanking a new acquaintance makes them more likely to seek an ongoing relationship, Forbes reported.
Grateful people are more experienced more sensitive and empathetic, a University of Kentucky study found, and are less likely to seek revenge. A 2014 study found that gratitude increased self-esteem in athletes, and plays a major role in overcoming trauma.
Gratitude can be learned, experts say, and journaling is a good way to become more aware of the things you have to be grateful for. Plus, studies show that people who keep a gratitude journal eat as much as 25 percent less fat and have stress hormones levels that are 23 percent lower.
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