If you need one more reason to be thankful, here it is. More and more researchers are finding that gratitude doesn’t just make you feel like a better person, it’s actually good for your health.
“Clinical trials indicate that the practice of gratitude can have dramatic and lasting effects in a person’s life,” said Robert A. Emmons, professor of psychology at UC Davis. “It can lower blood pressure, improve immune function and facilitate more efficient sleep.”
One recent study from the University of California San Diego’s School of Medicine found that people who were more grateful actually had better heart health, specifically less inflammation and healthier heart rhythms.
“They showed a better well-being, a less depressed mood, less fatigue and they slept better,” said the study’s author, Paul J. Mills. “When I am more grateful, I feel more connected with myself and with my environment. That’s the opposite of what stress does.”
Another study found that gratitude can boost your immune system. Researchers at the universities of Utah and Kentucky observed that stressed-out law students who characterized themselves as optimistic actually had more disease-fighting cells in their bodies.
But Emmons said there’s even more evidence.
People who keep a gratitude journal have a reduced dietary fat intake — as much as 25 percent lower. Stress hormones like cortisol are 23 percent lower in grateful people. And having a daily gratitude practice could actually reduce the effects of aging to the brain.
Being thankful has such a profound effect because of the feelings that go along with it, Emmons said. “Gratitude works because, as a way of perceiving and interpreting life, it recruits other positive emotions that have direct physical benefits, most likely through the immune system or endocrine system.”
“Some people say they don’t have anything to be grateful for,” Mills said. “If you take such a person to find one little thing to be grateful for and focus on that, you find over time that the feeling of gratitude can transform the way they see their lives.”
Lauren Dunn TODAY May 12, 2017 https://www.today.com/health/be-thankful-science-says-gratitude-good-your-health-t58256