Gratitude is a way for people to appreciate what they have in life instead of focusing on what they’re lacking. Our brains are designed to problem solve rather than appreciate. We must override this design to reap the benefits of gratitude. Studies show that practicing gratitude can lead to more intimate and connected relationships, reduce feelings of stress and depression, improve sleep, and result in better overall well-being.
Gratitude can improve relationships, as a mutual appreciation for each other often results in a more satisfying relationship. A study with couples found that individuals who took time to express gratitude for their partner felt more positive towards the other person. As well as felt more comfortable expressing concerns about their relationship.
A large part of managing stress is being able to regulate our emotions; practicing gratitude can help with that. A 2017 study published in Scientific Reports looked at the participant’s heart rates before, during, and after practising gratitude. The study found that heart rates decreased. A decreased heart rate is associated with feeling calmer. Next time you’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed take a moment to list the things you’re grateful for at that moment. It may be difficult but it will likely help to calm you down and put things into perspective.
People who practice gratitude before bedtime report better sleep. This is likely because gratitude diminishes anxiety and stressful feelings, allowing for a more restful and relaxed sleep.
Gratitude can also improve one’s outlook on life. Appreciating what you have can leave you feeling more optimistic and satisfied and experiencing less frustration, envy, and regret. Gratitude also tends to result in increased self-esteem and confidence, which also improves mood.
People feel and express gratitude in multiple ways. Find what works best for you and your life. Here are some suggestions:
- Stack it on top of an existing habit. If you stack it on top of another habit you’ll likely find it easier to maintain. Try thinking of 5 things you’re grateful for while in the shower.
- Get specific. Instead of saying you’re grateful for your friend, dive deeper and ask yourself what it is about your friend that makes you grateful to have them in your life.
- Think of different things. Challenge yourself to think of something different each day. Getting specific can help with this.
- Keep a gratitude journal. A space where you can write down 3-5 things you’re grateful for each day.
- Show appreciation to others. Whether that be through a thank you note, an email, or verbal interaction. This act of appreciation will mean more than you think to its recipient.
If you try any of these tips, please share them with us at your next appointment! The staff at Norfolk Chiropractic Wellness Centre would love to hear how you’re incorporating gratitude into your daily life.
by Kelly Verstraete, CHA