Studies show that being thankful results in better physical health and performance.
The simple practice of reflecting on what you’re grateful for has been observed to yield surprising benefits. The world of psychology has known this for a long time. A 2010 report published by Clinical Psychology Review directly linked gratitude to increased physical and mental health after a comprehensive analysis of previous research.
The review summarized a dozen studies that examined the effects of gratitude. A common form of gratitude intervention involves listing things one is thankful for on a daily basis. The ritualistic act resulted in the reduction of body dissatisfaction, alleviation of anxiety, positive life assessment, and stronger interpersonal connections. In one study, gratitude lists even improved bodily function for those with neuromuscular diseases. And in another, some college students reported fewer headaches and more time spent exercising.
Perception of life has been associated with inflammation as well. Results of a 2015 study for the American Psychological Association found that gratitude related to improved mood, better cardiovascular health, and lower inflammation in asymptomatic heart failure patients.
According to Robert Emmons, a psychology professor at UC Davis, gratitude is also associated with higher levels of good cholesterol (HDL), lower levels of bad cholesterol (LDL), and lower blood pressure at rest and during stress. This positive state of mind also helps the nervous and cardiovascular systems achieve harmony.
While keeping a daily gratitude journal may not be for everyone, adopting a positive attitude and thinking about what you’re thankful for are just as effective. Even better, you can also demonstrate gratitude by regularly expressing thanks to the people you appreciate. More athletes are incorporating a gratitude practice into their active lifestyles and workout logs, while a growing number of coaches consider it as a valuable training tool.
It is common knowledge that the connection between the body and mind is a powerful one. Your life may not be going perfectly, but if you regularly stop and focus on the positive side of things, you are bound to get a boost in overall performance and well-being. The research states that you don’t have to be at the peak of happiness and health to feel grateful… Trying to be thankful can actually make you happier and healthier.
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