The last year has been exceptionally challenging for us all due to the coronavirus pandemic. Even in the toughest of times, we came together as a nation every Thursday evening to clap and show gratitude for the enormous collective effort of healthcare workers, volunteers and organisations who have gone the extra mile to support the most vulnerable members of our community.
In times like this, it can be difficult to show gratitude and remember all of the things we are thankful for. But, if you can get in the habit of doing so, it could lead to numerous health benefits.
The Health Benefits of Showing Gratitude
The word gratitude comes from the Latin word gratia, which means grace, graciousness, or gratefulness. Like mindfulness, gratitude is an attitude and way of living that has many benefits for health. It's strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, make the most of good experiences, improve their health, deal with struggles, and even build stronger relationships. Let's take a look at how some of this can work.
Without gratitude, our minds naturally focus on the negative until negativity becomes an ingrained habit. But, when we express gratitude, this turns our mental focus to the positive. Thankfulness and gratefulness have been found to make you more resilient and cope better under stressful times when it comes to your emotions.
In 2003, a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology by Dr Emmons and his colleague Michael McCullough from the University of Miami examined the effects of writing gratitude diaries on 200 college undergraduates. The students were divided into three groups and wrote journals focusing on gratitude (blessings), hassles and annoyances, or neutral events. At the end of 10 weeks, after completing a gratitude diary each evening, they felt more positive about their lives, more optimistic about the upcoming week, had fewer physical symptoms or pain, and even spent more time exercising.
Sleep is essential for all-round health and wellbeing. Studies have shown that writing in a gratitude journal for 15 minutes every evening improves your mood and lowers stress before bedtime. You end the day with positive thoughts. You can then have a better quality deep sleep and wake up feeling more energised and ready for the day.
Relationships and Personality:
Gratitude can help in keeping us more grounded and relatable. For some of you, reading this might seem entirely far-fetched. Still, a study of couples showed that individuals who took time to express gratitude for their partner felt more positive towards the other person and felt more comfortable expressing concerns about their relationship. Other examples showed at work; for example, managers who remember to say "thank you" to people who work for them may find that those employees feel motivated to work harder and have a much happier work-life relationship.
We've seen how gratitude can lead to a happier and healthier life. You might now be wondering how to start practicing gratitude yourself?
Gratitude and Balancing Your Chakras
The energy centres within your physical body regulate the flow of life-force energy in and out of your body are the chakras. You can learn more about chakras here. When you experience an energetic imbalance due to strong and persistent thoughts and negative emotions, your body experiences this imbalance, too. We can help to rebalance our chakras though by practicing gratitude. When you do this, it can instantly raise your vibration and open up your chakras.
With gratitude, people acknowledge the good in their lives instead of dwelling on the stresses and problems that they face. There are many ways you could do this. The simplest way to get started is by completing a gratitude journal or diary each evening. It doesn't have to take long; just 5 – 10 minutes a day is a great way to start.
1. Buy a notebook to be used as your gratitude diary
2. Each evening, try to think of at least five new things to be thankful for, and write them down.
3. Continue with this exercise daily for at least 3 months. This will help you to wind down from the day and de-stress.
You can even practice gratitude the first thing in the morning when you wake up. This can help you start the day with the right positive energy. You may need to persist with the diaries for two or three months to transform your mental compass towards focusing on positive aspects of your life and feel the benefits from this practice.
Please take it as a new challenge to learn to be grateful and forgiving every day. You will soon be able to feel the difference of a happier and healthier way of life.
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