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Health 4 January 2021
By: Natasha Tanga

How Gratitude May Benefit Your Overall Health


2020 is a year that has brought a unique set of challenges for a lot of people since the pandemic began. Whether it may be health challenges, or financial challenges due to the inevitable dip of the economy, many people were struggling to keep up with their life and trying their best to survive in such situation. 

However bad that may sound, at the end of the day, there's still a silver lining that can be taken out of these circumstances. For example, managing to live a healthier life by doing routine exercises, or stepping out of your comfort zone to start a business you might have put off for years. How grateful are you this year, despite the difficulties you might've faced? Is there any connection between your mindset and your physical health? On this week's journal, we will be talking about the effects of a grateful mindset and how beneficial it can be for health. Read on!

How gratitude affects psychological well-being

It's no secret that our well-being often depends on how and what we think about. While it's by no means saying that we can improve our life only by thinking about good and positive things, there are a few studies that dig deeper on the relationship of gratitude and overall health.

One of the most direct effect may be seen on the psychological part. While grateful people are shown to be more optimistic towards life, some research has shown that these people are actually less prone to have a number of mental health disorders. They are also shown to have better body image, less anxiety, and feeling less depressed overall. This might explain why some form of therapies implement gratitude practice by writing what people are grateful for in their lives.

How gratitude affects physical health

Physical condition often times are closely related to mental or psychological condition, and researchers have also found the benefits of gratitude for physical health. For example, heart conditions are often triggered by anger, which is a psychological factor. Being less angry does have an impact for health, by lessening the possibility of a heart attack or stroke. Studies have also shown that heart rate reduced significantly in people who are more grateful, compared to those who have resentful, negative thoughts.

What we think about also plays a big role on our behavior, and this indirectly correlates to our health level. Some researches have shown that feelings of gratitude may encourage people to stick to a healthy routine. It shows increase in healthy habits, such as frequent exercise routine, more nutritious food intake, as well as generally caring for their physical well-being. These habits, in turn, can result in better immunity, lower blood pressure and reduced systemic inflammation.

Another important benefit is improved sleep. As one of the most overlooked habit, sleep actually plays a very important role in maintaining health and keeping the body working as it should. Some of the side effects of inadequate sleep includes increased risk of obesity, diabetes, and development of cardiovascular diseases. However, sometimes it is easier said than done, as most people who have a lot of things in their mind, often times have a hard time falling asleep. This condition, known as insomnia, is closely linked to various psychological and mental problems. Research have shown that people who practice gratitude fall asleep more quickly than those who don't, as well as having longer duration and better sleep quality. Therefore, practicing gratitude may be one of the ways to improve your sleeping habits and enables you to maintain better physical health in the long run.