The Natural Path – The Importance of Gratitude

by Dr. Marita Schauch, ND – Tall Tree Integrated Health Centre

Gratitude. As Thanksgiving approaches and we plan our turkeys and stuffing, we also turn our thoughts to what we are grateful for.

While this may be something that is just a passing whim around the dinner table once a year, there are many benefits of living a grateful life, and cultivating gratitude as a way of being that science is just beginning to explore.

It may seem like an airy-fairy thing, but gratitude can have a huge impact on your life and your health, such as:

Better Mental Health. People who pay regular attention to what they are grateful for may have lower rates of depression, anxiety, and even may show improved symptoms of PTSD.

Lower Stress. Stress is one of the biggest health risks and regular gratitude practise is also shown to reduce stress hormone levels by 23%.

A Happier Life. Those with a regular gratitude practise tend to also have better relationships and a more positive outlook on – and overall satisfaction with – life.

Improved Physical Health. Grateful people are more likely to take care of their bodies, showing a higher tendency to eat well and exercise regularly, and be less likely to smoke or abuse alcohol.

Better Sleep. People who wrote down a few things they were grateful for before bed tended to sleep better and longer.

Better Able to Cope with Life’s Challenges. Grateful people have improved mental resilience in coping with traumatic events, as well as greater patience and understanding for others.

There are many ways to incorporate being thankful into your life, and it really can be quite easy and take hardly any time at all. You’ll be surprised once you start just how many things to be grateful for there are!

Create a Gratitude Journal. A popular way to practise gratitude is to start a journal devoted to the things you’re grateful for. You could write in it each morning, before bed, or even carry it with you and make note every time you notice something you’re grateful for throughout the day.

Start Your Day with Gratitude. Have the very first thoughts of your day be of gratitude. The minute you wake up, start by thinking of 10 things you’re grateful for to set the tone for the rest of your day.

Count Your Blessings Before Bed. Before you go to sleep, think back through your day and find as many things to be grateful for as you can.

Utilize Your Commute Time. On your commute to work, create a game of seeing how many things you can notice that you’re grateful for.

Write Thank You Notes. When someone does something for you that you appreciate, spend the time to write them a thank you note and spread the gratitude!

Happy Thanksgiving. May you and your loved ones be blessed with many things to be grateful for this season.

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