The Thanksgiving holiday is officially behind us. But before you start daydreaming about the next feast and planning for the upcoming holidays, it’s important to take a moment to remember what the holiday season should be all about. And no, I’m not talking about food and presents.
This time of year provides an excellent opportunity to reflect on all the challenges and triumphs of the previous few months, and gives us a chance to express some genuine gratitude for all the greatness in our lives. Whether it’s the endless support of our family and friends, good health, money in the bank, lovable pets, a much-needed holiday, all of the above, or something else entirely, every single one of us has something to be thankful for.
And as luck would have it, showing some appreciation is actually good for your health too. Here’s how:
#1. It Reduces Stress: With so much going on every day, it’s easy to become distracted by the daily grind and take things for granted. But forgetting about all the good things in your life can lead to long, stressful days, which in turn can lead to unhealthy thinking and behaviors. On the other hand, taking a moment to feel thankful can help put things back into perspective and actually reduce your stress.
#2. It Can Lower Your Blood Pressure: With a nickname like “the silent killer,” it should come as no surprise that high blood pressure is bad news. If left unchecked, it can lead to heart attack, stroke, vision loss, and many other nasty conditions. But at least one recent study seems to suggest that a little gratitude can actually help reduce blood pressure. A healthy diet and some exercise can also go a long way in helping to reduce your blood pressure.
# 3. It Improves Your Sleep: Getting a good night’s sleep is essential to a healthy lifestyle. In addition to making sure you don’t walk around looking like an extra from “The Walking Dead,” catching plenty of z’s can also help reduce stress, improve your immune system, and make you feel more focused, among other benefits. Surprisingly, being thankful can help improve your sleep. According to one study, expressing gratitude before bedtime may help you sleep longer and better.
#4. It Can Kick-start Your Energy Levels: We could all use a boost of energy from time to time. Not only does it help us stay focused and get things done throughout the day, but a boost of vitality can also help you bring your A-game to whatever tasks you’re working on. The jury’s still out on whether high-energy people express more gratitude, or gratitude leads to more energy. But one thing is clear, there is a strong correlation between vitality and gratitude.
#5. It’ll Make You Feel Happier: Here’s the bottom line, taking some time to be thankful will make you feel happier. And who doesn’t want that? Expressing some thanks can help you remember some great memories and recall positive feelings. It can also improve your relationships—personally and professionally—and may even lead to new friendships by binding you closer to those you are thankful for.
How to Practice Gratitude
If you woke up today, you’re already off to a great start. Before you brew that coffee and get ready for the day, take a few moments to take some deep breaths and think about how grateful you are to enjoy another day, full of new possibilities and opportunities.
Some experts also suggest keeping a gratitude journal to jot down things you’re grateful for throughout the day or before bedtime. Sending out thank you letters or reaching out to individuals who are important to you can also be a great way to express your gratitude. A nice side benefit is that doing so can help spread some good vibes and maybe make someone’s day.
Taking the time to feel thankful is something everyone can and should do. Sure, it may sound like some new age mumbo jumbo or hippie stuff, but approaching things with a positive attitude can go a long way. While the holiday season provides a good opportunity to count your blessings, being thankful every day can benefit you and your general well-being throughout the entire year.