For many, the coming winter is tinged with sadness or anxiety. Science shows that while it doesn’t fix everything, nurturing gratitude can help by shifting our attention to the positive.
For some it is an instinct, for others a habit, but giving thanks is good for our body, our mind and our relationships.
Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, who study More than 1,000 people between the ages of eight and 80 found that those who consistently practiced gratitude enjoyed a number of benefits.
Physically, these people had stronger immune systems, were less bothered by aches and pains, and enjoyed better sleep. At the same time, the psychological benefits included feeling more joy and pleasure, experiencing more optimism, and being happier. Socially, they were more helpful, generous, and compassionate, and even reported feeling less alone and isolated.
Why is it so powerful? Gratitude allows us to celebrate the present; diverts our attention from negative and toxic emotions, such as envy, resentment, and debilitating regret; And science shows that grateful people have a greater sense of self-worth. Research even suggests that grateful people are better positioned to recover from serious trauma, adversity, and suffering.
If the prospect of colder and darker months (in the UK at least) ahead feels particularly daunting this year, here are five suggestions to help foster gratitude to yourself and others this winter.