Thankfulness and the Benefits of Gratitude

benefits of gratitude

As we enter into this season typically focused on gratitude and thankfulness, many may be wondering with the past nearly three years we’ve had, “What is there to be thankful for?” And for many, it has been a time of increased stress, financial strain and even significant loss. We recognize that. But now more than ever it is important to stop to consider what you have to be grateful for. Whether it’s your health, your friends and family, career, your home, or something else, we hope you can identify at least one thing. So even with all the uncertainty in our world, we want to share this important information on the benefits of gratitude.

The Benefits of Gratitude

The effects of practicing gratitude have been studied for roughly 15 years. As detailed below, practicing gratitude can directly impact our stress levels. One of our core beliefs here at Healing Haven is the importance of stress management for parents and caregivers, as well as for our staff. Whether you write thank you notes, keep a gratitude journal, or give a verbal expression of thankfulness to someone, you will experience many benefits both physically and mentally. And the practice of gratitude can have long term benefits throughout the year.

Sleep Better

Many research studies show that having an attitude of gratitude helps individuals have better quality of sleep. People experience falling asleep faster and staying asleep longer. So if quality sleep is a struggle, try writing down specific things you are grateful for. Taking a few minutes to do this before bed can have a positive impact on your sleep.

Reduce Stress

Research reveals that people who practice gratitude are better able to manage the stressors that come in life. It could be that getting more sleep helps you handle stress better. Or it could be the dopamine that is released in your brain when you express thankfulness. In our line of work with individuals with autism and their families, it may seem hard to be thankful when many areas of life are much more challenging. However, if you’re able to recognize and be thankful for the little things, you’ll experience the impact of grateful mindset.

Ease Depression 

There are specific gratitude exercises that can help ease depression. Experiments asking people to take part in an exercise to list three good moments or things at the end of each day reveals improvements in depression and overall happiness. Gratitude can reduce numerous toxic emotions like envy, resentment, regret and frustration, leading to an improved outlook on life.

Healthier Body 

Researchers asked people how likely the were to participate in healthy behaviors like going to the doctor, exercise and healthy eating. They also asked them to rate their levels of gratitude. As reported in the journal Personality and Individual Difference, the researchers found correlations between healthy behaviors and gratitude, suggesting that expressing thanks has a connection with people taking care of their bodies. Stronger Self-esteem

Studies reveal that gratitude can reduce social comparisons. Grateful people are less likely to be jealous or envious of others. A contributing factor in lower self-esteem is being resentful toward others who have more money or better jobs. While grateful people are able to appreciate other people’s accomplishments and have security in their own self-worth.

There are so many benefits to having a grateful way of life that we can’t possibly list them here. This blog post from Happier Human lists out 31 benefits of gratitude!

Incorporating Gratitude Into Your Life

Are you realizing you need to practice more gratitude in your life? If you’re looking for easy ways to get started, we’ve got you covered with these tips:

  1. Start and end your day with it. Say out loud one thing you’re grateful for in the morning and one thing right before you go to sleep.
  2. Write it down. Keep a gratitude journal – noting one or more things you’re grateful for on a daily basis and write down your positive thoughts throughout the day.
  3. Switch it up. If you become aware of the negative of something or someone, switch it in your brain to a positive.
  4. Share it with others. Give at least one compliment or “thank you” daily. This can either be directly to someone or simply about your surroundings (I love how quiet the office is today.) And if you thank a coworker for a job well done, it may spread to others to recognize great work.
  5. Spare us the drama. Commit to not complaining, criticizing or gossiping for one week. This exercise may help you to realize how much energy you were spending on negative thoughts.

We hope these ideas help spark more gratitude in your life. But even with trying to be grateful, you find yourself still struggling, please reach out for help! The numbers of people experiencing anxiety, depression and stress is at a new high due to what’s happening in our world. Don’t go through this alone. We have qualified counselors on staff, or reach out to a friend for support. Remember – it’s OK to ask for help!