Saying “thank you” is more than good manners—it’s incredibly good for you.
"There is a connection between what happens in your brain and what happens in your body," says Shelley Dotson, MD, Fairview Clinics – Farmington. "I don’t think we can fully explain it right now, but we can tell the benefits of gratitude are real."
Here are a few ways a lifestyle of gratitude can make a difference for you at home and work, plus the key to unlocking its benefits.
Scientific research and long-term studies have shown improved health outcomes and greater happiness for people who maintain a positive outlook on life through thankfulness. Grateful people:
1. Are more optimistic, which boosts the immune system and leads to fewer sick days
3. Can handle stressful situations better and show lower blood pressure and lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol
4. Get more restful sleep
5. Are seen as more successful by their coworkers
6. Enjoy an increased sense of confidence
7. Are more patient
8. Make better long-term decisions and set more meaningful goals
A recent study also indicates that gratitude may reduce the impact that aging has on the brain.
What’s the best way to unlock the benefits of gratitude? Regular practice.
While starting new habits takes some effort, Brenna Vuong, Fairview employee wellness manager, points out that a gratitude practice can be very simple. It doesn’t require special equipment, training or room space—and you can do it in whatever time you have.
“Use an app or set a reminder each day to take time and be thankful,” says Brenna. “My cue is usually at my kids’ bedtime. I like to ask them before going to bed, 'What was your favorite part about today?' Doing this each night helps all of us think about what we are thankful for.”
Along with talking with family or those you live with, Dr. Dotson suggests a regular practice of writing things down.
"Some people keep a journal and write three things that they're thankful for every day, and they have to be specific," says Dr. Dotson, "Getting into the habit of writing those things down helps, and leads to the most health benefits."
Do you have a great way to make thankfulness a part of your everyday life? Leave your tips in the comments below.