When you think about staying fit and healthy, you probably think about exercising, eating right, and going to the doctor. But it turns out there are other ways to stay in shape, and all of those methods are mental! And one way of this variety is through gratitude.
Gratitude, often referred to as optimism, implies a willingness to show gratitude and appreciation to those around you. But it’s not just limited to others! You can be grateful for the things you own, the person you are, and the life you can currently live.
As a positive emotion, gratitude has been found to have numerous health effects. However, for the most part, people assume that its health benefits relate solely to the mind. But actually, surprisingly, it’s a much more powerful trait than that. Here are 6 ways being thankful helps us stay fit and healthy.
1. Improve sleep
It can be difficult to see the links at first, but it makes sense that gratitude and dream are linked when you think about it. After all, many people who struggle to fall asleep are plagued with anxieties, stressors, and all kinds of problems. As such, gratitude can help ease that mental anguish. But is there science behind this? Well, it turns out! Here are three studies confirming the benefits of gratitude in sleep:
- “Counting blessings versus burdens: An experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life” published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (2003). This study found that people who kept a gratitude journal got an extra half hour of sleep compared to those who didn’t. The participants also had chronic pain conditions.
- “Gratitude influences sleep through the mechanism of pre-sleep cognitions,” published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research (2009). This study found that, in healthy individuals, those who obtained higher gratitude scores on a test administered to them also experience better sleep. They enjoyed better sleep quality, longer sleep durations, and had quicker sleep skills. Also, it was easier for them to stay awake during the day.
- “The Impact of a Brief Gratitude Intervention on Subjective Well-Being, Biology, and Sleep” published in the Journal of Health Psychology (2016). This investigation The role involved the use of a two-week gratitude intervention. During this period, the participants enjoyed a better quality of sleep.
2. Improve your mental health
Mental health is part of staying fit and healthy. You cannot have a healthy body if your brain is also not healthy. When you are most grateful, your mental health can benefit. Studies indicate that gratitude can keep your mind focused positive thinking, decreasing depression, stress and anxiety at the same time. More specifically, gratitude can:
When you are grateful, you begin to feel better about your life and to appreciate a little more yourself, your abilities, and who you are. Therefore, those who complete gratitude contemplation programs will likely find better levels of life satisfaction and significantly higher self-esteem. studies!
It makes you feel happier
Just the act of keeping a gratitude journal. According to studies, writing to it for just five minutes a day can lead to a huge 10% increase in long-term happiness. This is because noticing the good things in your life can lead to increased positive general mood.
Improves positive emotion experiences
Alright, gratitude makes you happier. But it also makes you feel that happiness even more! Basically, the more grateful you are, the more likely you are to experience all kinds of positive emotions at a higher level of intensity.
Reduce suicidal desire
People with depression can practice gratitude to benefit from their protective factors. Basically, gratitude is a positive coping mechanism that can reduce suicidal thoughts and decrease the risk of such attempts. However, keep in mind that if you have suicidal thoughts or ideas on a regular basis, you should speak to a mental health professional if you are not already being treated for them. Gratitude cannot heal these thoughts on its own without help!
Increase your psychological well-being
It doesn’t matter what your personality type is, studies Point out that practicing gratitude regularly at high levels means that your entire psychological self benefits. This means that living a grateful life can already significantly improve your mental health on an overall level.
3. Improves immunity
Gratitude may not be able to cure illness, but it can significantly strengthen your physiological function. It is common knowledge that positive emotions can help improve health, even a little bit, and sometimes a little is all it takes. Here are some ways gratitude keeps your immune system strong:
- “Optimism is associated with mood, coping, and immune change in response to stress,” published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (1998). This little investigation revealed that positive thinking – specifically with gratitude and optimism – allowed for a better immune system response to stress and difficult situations.
- “Coping with a breast cancer diagnosis: a prospective study” published in Health Psychology (1993). This study had surprising results, revealing that people with higher levels of gratitude and optimism would recover more quickly from breast cancer and find that their immune system function was more sustained. positive during and after the fact.
- “Lifestyle and diet correlate with dispositional optimism in men: The Zutphen Elderly Study” published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research (2007). This study found that optimism and gratitude were related to a lower need for PhD visits among older people.
But why, exactly, do people achieve these results? Well, when you are grateful, you activate a part of your body called the parasympathetic nervous system. This activation reduces stress levels, allowing your immune function to remain strong. On the other hand, stress occurrences can alter the functioning of the body, be it the immune system or even more complex parts such as the hypothalamic-pituitary axis.
Staying in shape is difficult when you don’t have the energy to do it. Many people like energy and vitality levels just because of physical factors, like getting enough rest. There are actually many sources that you can draw energy from, and one of them is being thankful.
In “The Grateful Disposition: A Conceptual and Empirical Topography,” a study published in The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in 2002, some interesting findings related to gratitude, energy, and happiness. These are their results:
- The study, which involved 238 people, found a significant correlation between gratitude and vitality.
- This correlation held even after the experiment was controlled for several different factors. These included agreeableness, social desirability, extraversion, and neuroticism.
- High-energy people and high-gratitude people tend to share similar traits, leading to a lot of overlap.
But why, exactly, does this happen? It can be difficult to determine whether there must first be gratitude or vitality to get these results. But if you put them to good use, you should end up on a positive cycle of both, no matter which one you start with.
5. Extend your life
More research is needed in this area. But many pre-existing studies seem to indicate that gratitude and optimism can predict someone’s mortality. That’s because the most optimistic people live longer than the pessimistic ones. The positive thought of gratitude can increase a person’s lifespan from a few months to a few years. Here are some studies on the subject:
- “Optimistic versus pessimistic: Survival Rate Among Medical Patients Over a 30-Year Period ”published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings (2000). This study found that those with higher pessimism and lower levels of gratitude had a higher mortality rate of 19% compared to those who are more optimistic.
- “Positive Emotions in Early Life and Longevity: Findings from the Nun Study” published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (2001). This study found that those who experience more positive emotions in their first years of life are more likely to enjoy a longer lifespan, with a difference of 2.5 times.
- “Prediction of All-Cause Mortality Using the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory Optimism-Pessimism Scale Scores: A Study of a University Sample Over a 40-Year Follow-up Period,” published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings (2000 ). This research found that people with the most pessimism and least gratitude had decreased longevity rates by a risk index of 1.42.
6. Can improve recovery
If you have experienced any form of threat to your health throughout your life, then being thankful can help you recover. Even for those who are trying to regain fitness and health, it seems gratitude can still pay off! Here are some ways that being thankful drives recovery progress:
This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s still quite interesting to note. In a fascinating study, a person with depression could use gratitude as a method of recovery. This increased their ability to overcome these mental health problems. So it is an unorthodox form of research. However, other studies also agree that similar practices lead to such results.
People who have experienced any form of coronary heart disease, including acute coronary syndrome, can benefit from practicing gratitude. Those who are more optimistic and have this positive thinking you may have a faster quality of life, less anxiety and depression, and a faster recovery.
· Substance abuse
Participants in the addiction program may find that they enhance their development, growth, improvement, and overall journey through gratitude. Researchers have found that people who recover from substance abuse are more likely to develop their strengths and overcome their struggles if they have positive thinking and gratitude on your side.
Post-traumatic recovery occurs more quickly and positive qualify when combined with gratitude and optimism practices, regardless of the type of trauma. This can also include physical trauma, such as from injury or illness.
Gratitude It is an amazing trait and it can be a powerful tool in your life. It has so many shocking benefits that it’s obvious how underrated it is. Begin to implement gratitude into your life for better mental health, better sleep, more energy, a stronger immune system, and faster recovery. Of course, each of these benefits can also lead to a longer life.
Do you need help boosting your gratitude levels? Try keeping a gratitude journal in which you jot down at least three things that you are thankful for every day! Before long, you will naturally be looking for things to be thankful for. You can seek further help through counseling or consult a mental health professional if you need additional help!