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Give Thanks: The Benefits of Gratitude

The benefits of gratitude seem obvious. Being thankful for what you have feels good, and feeling good has positive effects on the rest of your life, right? After all, we have a whole holiday season dedicated to this simple concept, as well as self-help gurus and inspirational Instagram accounts constantly reminding us about the importance of cultivating a sense of gratitude.

Grateful heart hands
Gratitude has mental, physical, and social benefits.

So, there’s really no debate about the value of gratitude, however, many don’t realize the full extent of its benefits. Learn more about the science of gratitude and how it can improve your mental health and your life.

Make a habit of gratitude

According to Merriam-Webster, gratitude is the state of being grateful. It’s different from a fleeting feeling of thankfulness, it’s a practice that involves intention. Experiencing gratitude is a choice of identifying and appreciating elements of your day, your life, and the world around you, which is why all of those self-help gurus suggest creating a ritual around the act.

Gratitude Journal
Creating a ritual around documenting your gratitude has many benefits.

Setting aside time each day to reflect on things that you’re grateful for during a meditation session or writing thankful thoughts down in a gratitude journal can help establish gratitude as a routine part of your day. And it’s a habit worth picking up, too.

Practicing gratitude has the following benefits:

Relieves stress

When you experience something negative, it’s easy to dwell on it. Consequently, the small slights and stresses of our days can have a cumulative effect and a negative impact on life.

A 2017 study shows that practicing gratitude can improve emotional regulation in a demonstrable way. Researchers monitored the heart rates of participants before, during, and after experiencing gratitude, and then repeated the process after they experienced resentment. People who focused on things that made them feel gratitude had slower heart rates, indicating calmness. There were also signs that the portions of the brain that correlate with anxiety and depression relaxed more.   

Reduce stress by practicing gratitude.
Reduce stress and improve happiness with gratitude.

It’s a possibility that you can reduce the symptoms of stress by simply focusing on the things that you are grateful for during times of tension.

Improves empathy

Gratitude can also improve your ability to connect and form relationships with others. Research published in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience showed that people who regularly practiced gratitude had increased gray matter volume in the right temporal lobe of the brain, which is where emotions are processed.

People who have increased gray matter in this area have been associated with having more success in interpreting the intentions of others. Therefore, it’s possible that practicing gratitude may give you a greater ability to understand and connect with others.  

Gratitude fosters empathy.
Practicing gratitude can help improve your connection with others.

Better health

The psychological benefits of gratitude are clear, but not many consider that there may actually be physical benefits, as well. Dispositional gratitude is defined in one study as, “part of a wider life orientation towards noticing and appreciating the positive in the world.”

A 2013 study showed that grateful people self-reported better physical health, due in part to their increased psychological health which enabled them to participate in healthy activities and behaviors. Another study showed that feelings of gratitude lead to better sleep, an improved mood, and lower inflammation. The sum of all of these benefits of gratitude could result in a longer, healthier life.

Gratitude turns what we have into enough
Go ahead and listen to those inspirational accounts on Instagram.

So, not only does gratitude feel good, it has verifiable physical and mental health benefits. Maybe we should take the advice of those self-help gurus after all. Create a habit of counting your blessings, and enjoy your world.

As a wellness company, KININ is interested and invested in your health and well-being. Add a little self-care to your daily routine with our portable aromatherapy products made of all-natural essential oils.

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