Are Grateful People Healthier?

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This is the month that is dedicated to the practice of gratitude. How can the practice of gratitude help your physical health?

PositivePsychology.com recently reported on research findings about the benefits of gratitude as written by Courtney E. Ackerman, MSc.

There is evidence that practice of gratitude can improve your physical health, in addition to helping you balance your emotions and improve your relationships.

It has been shown that gratitude can…

1. Reduce depressive symptoms

A study on gratitude showed that participants that express gratitude visits experienced a 35% reduction in depressive symptoms for several weeks. A gratitude visit is choosing a person that you are grateful for and writing them a note/letter about what they mean to you. If possible you hand deliver the note/letter.  Those that practice gratitude journaling reported a similar reduction in depressive symptoms for as long as the journaling continued (Seligman et al., 2005). This finding suggests that gratitude journaling can be an effective supplement to treatment for depression.

2. Reduce your blood pressure

Patients with hypertension who “count their blessings” at least once a week experienced a significant decrease in blood pressure, resulting in better overall health (Shipon, 1977). Want a healthy heart? So count your blessings!

3. Improve your sleep

A two-week gratitude intervention increased sleep quality and reduced blood pressure in participants, leading to enhanced well-being (Jackowska, Brown, Ronaldson, & Steptoe, 2016). If you’re having trouble sleeping or just waking up feeling fatigued, try a quick gratitude journaling exercise before bed – it could make the difference between being either groggy or great in the morning!

4. Increase your frequency of exercise

Practicing gratitude was shown to help participants increase their exercise and make progress toward getting fir. Study participants who practiced gratitude regularly for 11 weeks were more likely to exercise than those in the control group (Emmons & McCullough, 2003).

5. Improve your overall physical health

Evidence shows that the more grateful a person is the more likely he or she is to enjoy better physical health, as well as psychological health (Hill, Allemand, & Roberts, 2013). So according to multiple studies grateful people are healthier people!

References:

Shipon, R. W. (1977). Gratitude: Effect on perspectives and blood pressures of inner-city African-American hypertensive patients. US: ProQuest Information & Learning. Accession Number: 2007-99018-513.Jackowska, M., Brown, J., Ronaldson, A., & Steptoe, A. (2016). The impact of a brief gratitude intervention on subjective well-being, biology, and sleep. Journal of Health Psychology, 21, 2207-2217. doi:10.1177/1359105315572455Emmons, R. A., & McCullough, M. E. (2003). Counting blessings versus burdens: An experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84, 377-389. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.84.2.377Hill, P. L., Allemand, M., & Roberts, B. W. (2013). Examining the pathways between gratitude and self-rated physical health across adulthood. Personality and Individual Differences, 54, 92-96. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2012.08.011https://positivepsychology.com/benefits-gratitude-research-questions/

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