Written by Paloma Quevedo on November 28th 2020
In the past decade, researches and healthcare professionals have gathered more and more evidence that mindfulness and meditation can positively affect your well-being and help you live a healthy life.
Your brain is the control center of the body, which is why your thoughts and mental state play a big role in your body’s overall function.
Incorporating a gratitude practice into your life has been proven to promote better relationships and happier mental health—it can even go as far as improving your physical health.
So, what exactly is gratitude? The world’s leading scientific gratitude expert, Robert Emmons, says that: “It’s an affirmation of goodness. We affirm that there are good things in the world, gifts, and benefits we’ve received.” He emphasizes that a gratitude practice exists in a social dimension: “We acknowledge that other people—or even higher powers, gave us many gifts, big and small, to help us achieve the goodness in our lives.”
Emotional healing is a big part of living a healthy life. A daily gratitude practice can positively affect a person’s mental health by encouraging them to be more aware of the good and wholesome things in their lives instead of being so aware of the negatives. Studies have shown that keeping a daily gratitude journal where you write a list of things you are grateful for can significantly reduce anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts.
Humans are social creatures, and maintaining good relationships with our friends and family is important for our emotional wellbeing. When we become more conscious of the goods things that our loved ones bring into our lives, we make a more significant effort to keep them in our lives and make the relationships last. Similarly, when we express gratitude towards someone, they reciprocate that feeling of gratitude, which will, in turn, make you happier and will make your time together all the more special.
Sleep plays a major role in your mental and physical health. Lack of sleep is linked to heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, depression, anxiety, and a slew of other health issues. Research done by the Journal of Psychosomatic Research proves that a gratitude practice helps people sleep more soundly and for longer periods of time. After sleeping more soundly, the people in the study reported waking up feeling more refreshed. Writing in your gratitude journal right before bed or meditating on the good things about your day will improve your sleep quality and help you live a healthy life.
Practicing gratitude can go as far as improving your physical health. Many studies have proven that a gratitude practice is linked to better heart health. The University of California at San Diego studied two large groups of women; for two weeks, one group wrote down everything they felt bad about in their lives while the other group kept a gratitude journal. After two weeks, the group of women that wrote down the negatives had significantly lower blood pressure than the other group of women. It was reported that feelings of appreciation and gratitude result in improved heart rate variability, which is a sign of good health.