How Gratitude Affects the Mind and Body

June 22, 2024 12:43 pm

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Gratitude is taking a moment to reflect on how lucky you are when something good happens, whether it’s small or big. But did you know that gratitude goes deeper than just a feeling? It truly affects how the mind and body function!

While we often look at gratitude as simply a feeling we get when we think of our friends, family, and everything going right in our life, a study has found that it is much more than that. Gratitude is actually a complex emotion that involves social interactions, bonding, and even moral judgement and empathy.

This means that gratitude isn’t just a “thank you”, it’s an important part of human interaction which enables us to build connections. This is likely because gratitude requires us to humble ourselves a bit and say thank you, which doesn’t come naturally for everyone. You open yourself up when showing gratitude, leaving room for others to see a side of you they may not see often, which in turn, leaves them with positive emotion. This forms connection. Connection with others, no matter how big or small, can help fill a void in your life.

Let’s face it, winter is a time when we turn inward disconnecting ourselves from the outside world physically. This leads to an emotional disconnect as well. But that social connection, real connection with people, is important to keep you mentally grounded at a time when you may feel isolated.

By practicing gratitude, especially in difficult times, you can experience greater possibility and sense of volition. Gratitude makes us feel more connected to others, which is a powerful antidote to negative feelings that sometimes arise. In this way, gratitude is an effective tool for staying engaged while, at the same time, keeping your heart open.

Did you know that feeling and expressing gratitude works from the inside out? Being grateful doesn’t just affect our mental health, it also affects our physical health. When you’re grateful, it can turn your negative thoughts into positive ones, which can improve your sleep, enhance your mood, lower cortisol (stress hormone) levels, decrease inflammation in the body, and ease muscle tension. Being in a positive mood as a result of your gratitude often gives you incentive to make healthier choices, engage more with others, and practice habits that nourish your body inside and out.

The practice of gratitude – of being thankful, is the state of appreciation for what is right here, ready to be appreciated now. Practicing gratitude by placing awareness of everything you are grateful for has powerful benefits for both the mind and body.

“Gratitude is the best medicine. It heals your mind, your body, and your spirit.”

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