Keep gratitude going after Thanksgiving day
Thanksgiving is a time where we reflect on the things we are grateful for in our lives. But thankfulness shouldn’t be limited to just one day. Studies have shown that cultivating a daily gratitude practice can not only improve aspects of our mental health like our empathy, self-esteem, and resilience, it can also improve our physical health—specifically, our heart health.
Starting in the 1950s, behavioral cardiologists studied the impact of negative traits on people with cardiovascular disease. Gratitude can lower blood pressure, improve immune function, and reduce inflammation. Grateful people exercise more, eat healthier, are less likely to smoke and abuse alcohol, and are more likely to take required medications and visit their doctor regularly.
Two studies were of particular significance to cardiovascular health. The GRACE study found that people who practiced gratitude after a heart attack had faster recovery times compared with those who did not. And in a study conducted at the University of California-San Diego, patients with asymptomatic heart failure who had a more grateful disposition slept better, were less depressed, less fatigued, and had less systemic inflammation. They were also found to have more self-confidence when it came to taking care of themselves. Among heart failure patients who kept a gratitude journal for two months in addition to their usual care, scientists noticed reduced markers of inflammation along with increased heart rate variability, compared with those who received only the usual care.
While we often think of gratitude practice as something we do at home or as a private meditation, we can’t forget about the workplace.
“Gratitude is especially important in the workplace,” says Mike Rupsch, Licensed Professional Counselor and Licensed Clinical Social Worker. “Everyone needs to be reminded that what they do matters and they make a difference.”
Here are four simple ways to bring more gratitude into your life:
- Keep a gratitude journal
- Meditate on one thing for each of your sense that you’re grateful for: sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell
- Take five minutes at the end of each day to express thanks for three things
- Say “thank you” to a partner/friend/coworker who does something you appreciate. Rupsch advises, “A specific and deliberately delivered thanks is most effective. Identify something specific the person did, state how their actions helped you, and end with a heartfelt thank you.”
Learn more about women and heart health risk by contacting The Karen Yontz Women’s Cardiac Awareness Center at (414) 649-5767
About the Author
Bethany DeBroux Adams (Bethany.firstname.lastname@example.org), health enews contributor, is in charge of social media for The Karen Yontz Women’s Cardiac Awareness Center at Aurora Health Care. She holds a BA in English and an MA in Health Communication and has had a passion for writing ever since she can remember. In her free time, she enjoys traveling with her husband, taking her beloved beagle to the park, and spending time in any body of water she can dive into.