A grateful heart is a healthy heart

heart-cholesterol-800x450Okay, so the truth is that a physiologically healthy heart is not scientifically created by being grateful. But it is true that many health benefits accompany thoughts of gratefulness, and your heart will be full when you take the time to reflect on all that you have to be thankful for! With the Thanksgiving holiday near the end of the month, November is notorious for exercising gratitude. But what would happen if we focused on having a grateful heart all 365 days of the year instead of just during November? Researchers are saying that an attitude of gratitude is rewarded with better health which is why we should be appreciative year round!

For starters, a grateful tendency is linked to optimism which is known for boosting the immune system. One study found that those characterized as optimistic maintained healthy levels of the blood cells responsible for protecting the immune system as compared to their pessimistic counterparts. As we approach the winter months, gratefulness is an easy way to give your immune system a little boost to help protect against winter-time sickness.

Many times when we think of health, we think of physical health; but emotional health is also positively impacted by gratitude. Gratefulness has been promoted for years as having a mood-elevating affect and creating happiness. But did you know that there has also been an inverse relationship found between gratitude and depression? This means the more grateful a person is, the less likely they are to become depressed. Gratitude also helps us manage stressful situations more appropriately. And although stress may seem like an emotional health challenge, high levels of stress can also affect the body physically. High levels of stress increases the stress hormone cortisol, which can wreak havoc on your body by weakening the immune system, slowing down healing processes, and destroying healthy muscle and bone. Help keep your cortisol levels balanced by simply being grateful!

Gratitude has been shown to help people sleep better, improve self-esteem and self-worth, and cope better during a time of loss. Grateful people have even been shown to take better care of themselves in terms of exercising more regularly and eating healthier. So how can you practice gratitude and increase your health? One of the easiest ways is to write down 3 things you are grateful for in a daily gratitude journal. If a daily task seems impossible for your busy schedule, then focus on 5 things weekly. To get the family involved, you could make a Gratitude Jar and fill it with all the things you and your family are grateful for. Positive self-talk is also a great way to increase the gratefulness you should feel for simply being you. There is no person on this planet exactly like you, so remind yourself how special you are and reflect on some of things you have done well recently!

Starting a regimen of gratitude can be challenging, but with so many health benefits including the emotional happiness associated with thankfulness, it will be worth overcoming those challenges and practicing that attitude of gratitude!