Science confirms that gratitude boosts emotional, mental and physical health.
Gratitude in our thoughts, words and actions has long been recognized as a source of mental and emotional health. More recent research is identifying how those psychological benefits extend to physical wellbeing, especially conditions tied to stress such as headaches, heart disease, and lack of sleep.
The Grace of Gratitude
“There is growing evidence that being grateful may not only bring good feelings,” says researcher Jeff Huffman of the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley. “It could lead to better health.”
For researchers, establishing the link between giving thanks and feeling better requires scientific testing. Are people grateful because they feel good, or do they feel good because they were grateful? In one famous study, two psychology professors asked one group of students to write down each week what they were grateful for, another group to write down what irritated them, and another to write down events without evaluating them. After 10 weeks, the grateful group reported not only higher optimism and better feelings about life but also, unexpectedly, more exercise and less need to see a doctor. A study by Greater Good’s Thnx4 project found similar results among people who kept an online journal for two weeks—they had fewer headaches, less stomach pain, clearer skin, and reduced congestion that participants who kept an online gratitude journal for two weeks reported better physical health, including fewer headaches, less stomach pain, clearer skin and reduced congestion.
How to Practice Gratitude
The National Institutes of Health recommends deliberate, regular practices to build an attitude of gratitude. Recall good things—both large and small—that happened in the present or the past and reflect on them until you feel the gratitude they inspire rising up. Write down those good things once a week. Send a thank-you letter to someone at least once a month. Pray or practice mindfulness.
“We encourage people to try practicing gratitude daily,” says Dr. Judith T. Moskowitz, a psychologist at Northwestern University. “By practicing these skills, it will help you cope better with whatever you have to cope with. You don’t have to be experiencing major life stress. It also works with the daily stress that we all deal with. Ultimately, it can help you be not just happier but also healthier.”
Grateful for You
As we reflect on the past few months, we at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park are grateful for many things, most of all your continued support during these unprecedented times.