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Science Says Being Grateful is Good for the Heart, Brain and Overall Health

Running out of reasons to be grateful today? Why not be grateful because it’s good for your health?

According to Today, a study from the University of California San Diego’s School of Medicine revealed that people who were more grateful actually had better heart health. Their hearts specifically had less inflammation and had healthier rhythms.

Paul J. Mills, the author of the study said that people who were more grateful showed a better well-being, were on a less depressed mood and had better sleep.

“Clinical trials indicate that the practice of gratitude can have dramatic and lasting effects in a person’s life”, Robert A. Emmons, a UC Davis professor of psychology said. He also mentioned that gratefulness can lower blood pressure, improve immune function and facilitate more efficient sleep.

woman grateful for pizza
Be grateful even for the little things, like your favorite pizza.

Another study from the UK also found that gratitude can also boost the immune system. Stressed out law students who thought of themselves as optimistic were also found to have more disease fighting cells in their bodies, according to the researchers from the universities of Utah and Kentucky.

If you think these studies aren’t enough to be grateful today, Emmon says there’s even more proof: grateful people have less stress hormones by 23%, and having a daily gratitude ritual could reduce the effects of aging to the brain. Moreover, people who have a gratitude journal were found to have reduced their dietary fat intake by as much as 25%.

Research also shows that when we think about things that we are grateful for, the relaxing part of our nervous system becomes triggered. This can have protective effects on the body which includes decreasing cortisol levels, and possibly increasing oxytocin which is the bonding hormone that gives us a good feeling.

How to Practice Gratitude

According to Happify Daily, there are several ways that can help start the gratitude practice. Derrick Carpenter, MAPP, coach and trainer, enumerates four ways to  start practicing the attitude of gratitude: being thankful for new things on a daily basis, finding the right timing in expressing our gratefulness, trying new ways to express (or journal) our gratitude, and involving others in our gratitude practice.

While it may seem challenging to have an attitude of gratitude, it will never hurt if we try and start a gratitude journal. Remember that being grateful doesn’t only bring us an optimistic outlook in life, it has also been scientifically proven to improve one’s health.

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