The holiday season is almost upon us. While it can come with stress and sadness, it also provides an opportunity to reflect on the gifts and graces we’ve already been given.
In my practice, I offer lifestyle coaching in addition to acupuncture and holistic medicine. Perhaps not surprisingly, I teach the practice of gratitude to help you improve your own health. And it’s a powerful tool.
Being thankful is linked with mental and physical health
A study published in Personality and Individual Differences in 2012 found that physical health was strongly linked with gratitude. Grateful people were reported to experience fewer aches and pains and feel healthier than other people, essentially because gratitude improved psychological health. Additionally, better psychological health meant that people were more likely to seek medical help when it was needed. This, in turn, improved overall health outcomes.
Grateful people sleep better
Perhaps someone you know has suggested you start a gratitude journal. Before you write off the idea, consider your quality of shut-eye. A 2011 study published in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being found that spending a short amount of time before bed on a gratitude journal reduced worry and pre-sleep arousal, improving sleep compared to those who didn’t journal.
Gratitude increases resilience
Mother-in-law getting on your nerves? Building your resilience for stressful situations is easy as being appreciative. The journal published a study in 2006 that found that grateful Vietnam War veterans were more mentally resilient and felt the impacts of post-traumatic stress disorder less than vets with lower levels of gratitude.
The mind-body connection
During a medical crisis or difficulty, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed by pain and frustrated by the slow process of healing. Simply prioritizing your health enough to seek treatment is a gift that you’ve given to yourself to be grateful for. In many ways, you’re helping to treat yourself.
So, while Thanksgiving is the perfect time to start your practice of gratitude, remember that it’s one you can continue for yourself through the rest of the season and into the new year.