Being Grateful Is Good for Your Health

Mindset has become a HUGE topic of discussion this year. It’s usually around productivity and being happier, but there’s another other side you need to know about! Mindset, specifically having a grateful mindset, is good for your health!

Your mindset affects your body’s biochemistry, which affects your health. I’m sure you’ve heard of the studies proving stress can lead to heart disease!

Gratitude can affect your health,both physical and mental, in astounding ways! Many studies strongly suggest that being grateful is good for your health – like lowering anxiety, recovering from depression, and getting a better sleep. Which, bonus: boosts your immune system! Some studies even prove that practicing gratefulness can change your physical body, to help you recover from illnesses! It’s pretty interesting stuff,

As a matter of fact, a study done in 2007 by Shipon, R. W. looked at the perspectives and blood pressure of inner-city African-American hypertension patients. The patients counted their blessings once a week and the study’s results showed a significant decrease in their systolic blood pressure – by 10%!

“Something as simple as writing down three things you’re grateful for every day for 21 days in a row significantly increases your level of optimism, and it holds for the next six months. The research is amazing,” Shawn Achor – Harvard researcher and author.

Stress, especially if it’s often or chronic, is proven to have serious harmful effects on your body, including heart disease, diabetes, anxiety and depression. I won’t go into that because, quite honestly, the research is terrifying.

Many researchers, including Brené Brown, argue that ‘feeling’ grateful isn’t enough. You need to practice gratefulness. It can be done through meditation, prayer, journaling, and many other practices. For more information, see the links below.

When we truly feel grateful, and even when we practice acts of kindness, our brain gets flooded with dopamine – that’s the happy chemical. Our brains are rewarding us! Dopamine is one of the chemicals that helps those suffering with depression and anxiety find relief, or beat their illness altogether – it’s a powerful chemical. Click here to read more.

On the same note, a 2003 study called Counting Blessings vs. Burdens by University Professors Robert A. Emmons and Michael E. McCullough, had sick patients keep a gratitude journal. By the end, 16% of patients had less symptoms and 10% of them had less pain. The patients were more willing to exercise and much more motivated in their recovery. “The practice of gratitude can have dramatic and lasting effects in a person’s life,” said Emmons.

More and more evidence is being discovered every day on the link between gratitude and your health.

Do you think 15 minutes a day of journaling, meditating, praying, or otherwise practicing gratitude would be worth it for your health?

I’ll leave you with this quote:
When you actively practice gratitude, where you concentrate on not just thinking about it but write things down, you go through the day looking for it.” – Oprah while interviewing Brené Brown.

Related Links and Citations:

https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/giving-thanks-can-make-you-happier
https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/what-mentally-strong-people-dont-do/201504/7-scientifically-proven-benefits-gratitude
https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/basics/stress
https://www.consciouslifestylemag.com/benefits-of-gratitude-research/
https://health.ucdavis.edu/medicalcenter/features/2015-2016/11/20151125_gratitude.html
https://www.inc.com/jessica-stillman/the-amazing-way-gratitude-rewires-your-brain-for-happiness.html
https://gratefulness.org/resource/brene-brown-on-joy-and-gratitude/

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Free Self Care

This year I decided to do one thing for myself a day.

I haven’t been good at practicing self-care. I’m more of the don’t want to get a manicure because it means I have to sit still and can’t be productive for an hour, type.

But, I started to notice the quality of my work would go down when I focused more on my task list than myself.

Yes, that does mean this self-care journey of mine started because I wanted to be better at my job 🤦‍♀️ … not what I was hoping for, but it got me started! You might find that a lot in this list is about being mindful. They’re things we do pretty regularly as humans, the big difference is being conscious of what you’re doing and how it makes you feel.

What’s shifted the most for me is my daily mindset. I feel more inspired and honestly, happier. I’m in no way an expert at this, but it’s has made a BIG difference for me. Hopefully this ‘one thing for yourself a day’ thing can help someone else too.

Self-care can get really expensive. We’re told it needs to involve scents, bath bombs, vacations…but it doesn’t have to be. It’s really about slowing down, giving yourself some space, and letting your body rest.

Here are 20 ways I’ve been practicing self-care for FREE:
  1. Take a bath

    Super cliché, right? But it actually works. Don’t own a tub? Take a longer shower! I realize with kids that’s hard to impossible, but if you’re able, I highly suggest it. Just don’t bring your phone in the tub 😉

  2. Sit down for 5 minutes

    …and do absolutely nothing. Don’t check your phone, tell your family you’re busy and don’t judge any thoughts that come to mind. It might sound like meditation, and it kinda is, but before I was comfortable sitting down and meditating, I found this to be really calming and effortless. Plus, 5 minutes is manageable for any schedule. If sitting still sounds too hard, grab a cup of tea to sip! Not convinced? Here’s a study showing that sitting for 20 mins can be just as effective as exercise and meditation.

  1. Do your nails

    Just don’t rush through this. Put on a good movie or podcast and give your nails the time to DRY this time.

  2. Style your hair

    If you have as thick of hair as I do, it could take a while! But it feels so good to do yourself up with no intention of impressing anyone else.

  3. Get spiritual

    You may not be spiritual or religious and that’s totally okay. Personally, this would involve meditation, reflection, and prayer. For you, it could be taking time to think about what makes you feel connected to humanity or makes you feel most like yourself.

  4. Learn something new

    Watch a documentary, Ted Talk, read a book; just don’t do it for work or another chore that you have.

  5. Open your Windows

    This one isn’t so much taking care of yourself. It’s more to help you feel better on a low day. It really does help.

  6. Turn your phone on airplane mode

    For the night or until you feel less demanded by it.

  7. Make good food

    Food that makes you feel energized after. I love greasy food too, but that doesn’t have a place here.

  8. Drink water

    I’m pretty sure your eyes just rolled. But here’s the best part – you’re not going to judge yourself for “not drinking enough water”. Remember, you’re doing it to take care of your body because YOU LOVE YOU, not to hit a quota.

  9. Go for a Walk

    By yourself, go with someone, whatever you need. It’s a great way to get out of your head and boost endorphins!

  10. Do Some Fear Setting

    If you haven’t heard of this one before, look up “Fear Setting” by Tim Ferriss. You would be amazed at what can come out of it.

  11. Pick up a Hobby

    I garden in the summer and knit or sew in the winter. Grandma was on to something! But we want this to be FREE, so how about looking for some scrap material or yarn you already have, picking up Yoga from Youtube videos – your options are endless!

  12. Take a Nap

    I don’t need to convince you. Naps are the best.

  13. Go Through Your Stuff

    Maybe I’m the only weirdo here, but I find it so helpful to go through my things and purge. I find too much stuff, especially when it doesn’t have a home, adds to the stress.

  14. Stretch

    You already know it feels good to get your stretch on!

  15. Read

    An amazing woman in my networking group says she always has 2 books on the go. One she can learn from and the other is a good novel. I’ve adopted that and it’s genius!

  16. Make an Exercise routine

    This one might be the most work but it has the most reward. It’s scientifically proven that exercise will make you feel better and think clearer. I can vouch for that! I always feel better when I’m in a gym routine, even just once a week. Need more convincing? Here’s a write up from the ADAA.

  17. Colour

    Do a search for free adult colouring pages, print one-off, and go to town! Don’t knock it ‘til you try it.

  18. Volunteer

    Sometimes what we need is to get out of our own heads and focus elsewhere. You could join a group that meets at the same time each week or volunteer as a one-off when your community needs it. Some animal shelters look for volunteers to walk their dogs if you don’t want a task too people-y! Doing a nice thing for someone else just makes you feel better.

That’s all 20 of them! I truly hope you’re able to find a helpful nugget on this list. But if nothing else, remember that you’re not alone on this journey. This world is obsessed with busy and it’s okay to say no to that.

If you’re interested in more articles on mindset, check out Being Grateful Is Good for Your Health.

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