Tuesday, 14 November 2017 18:32

What are you grateful for this holiday season? November 2017

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The Cambridge dictionary defines gratitude as "a strong feeling of appreciation to someone or something for what the person has done to help you".  Being grateful does not cost money and, according to Forbes magazine there are seven scientific benefits of gratitude that can motivate you to be thankful all year- not just throughout the holidays. 

Seven reasons to be grateful:

1. Gratitude opens the door to more relationships. Showing appreciation can help you win new friends, according to a 2104 study published in Emotion. The study found that thanking a new acquaintance makes them more likely to seek an ongoing relationship.

2. Gratitude improves physical health. Grateful people experience fewer pains and body aches and have also reported feeling healthier, according to a 2012 study published in Personality and Individual Differences. Grateful people are also more likely to take care of their health. 

3. Gratitude improves psychological health. According to Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D., a leading gratitude researcher, conducted several studies on the link between gratitude and well-being. His research demonstrates how gratitude can effectively increase happiness and reduce depression.

4. Gratitude enhances empathy and reduces aggression. Grateful people are more likely to act in a prosocial way, even when others are less kind, a 2012 study by University of Kentucky found. Participants in this study who ranked higher on gratitude measures were less likely to retaliate against other people, even when given negative feedback. They experienced more sensitivity and empathy toward other people and a decreased desire to seek revenge.

5. Grateful people sleep better.  Consider taking 15 minutes before you go to bed and write down what you are grateful for.  You just may sleep better and even longer.

6. Gratitude improves self-esteem. Some studies have shown that gratitude can help reduce social comparisons.  Instead of being resentful toward people who have more money or better jobs (a major factor in lower self-esteem), grateful people tend to appreciate other’s accomplishments.

7. Gratitude increases mental strength. Research shows that gratitude can play a role in overcoming trauma besides reducing stress. In fact, a 2006 study published in Behavior Research and Therapy found that Vietnam War Veterans who had higher levels of gratitude experienced lesser rates of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.  The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found gratitude to be a contributor to resilience after the September 11 terrorist attacks. Recognizing what you are thankful for fosters resilience.

With the holidays fast approaching, now is a great time to take a moment and reflect on what you have and are thankful for every day.  This is also a wonderful time to create and find opportunities to acknowledge others for what you appreciate about them.

Source: Forbes.com, Cambridge dictionary

This blog is for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. Please consult your doctor for more information or if you have a medical concern.

Contributed by The Physician Alliance. To read previous blog articles, visit our Blog Archives page.

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