This is one of my favorite times of the year, because it’s all about reflecting on what we are grateful for in our lives.
Although, for the last four weeks I've been writing out five things I'm grateful for every single morning as part of my journaling routine. It definitely gets more press on this one day of the year!
Taking the time to really FEEL gratitude is actually good for your health.
First of all, what is gratitude, exactly?
Well, one of my favorite definitions of gratitude comes from world renowned psychologist Robert Emmons: “Gratitude is a felt sense of wonder, thankfulness, and appreciation for life.”
Here's an amazing quote by David Steindl-Rast:
"Gratefulness is the key to a happy life that we hold in our hands, because if we are not grateful, then no matter how much we have we will not be happy -- because we will always want to have something else or something more.
How does gratitude change your health?
When it becomes a daily practice, gratitude changes everything… right down to the wiring in your brain!
According to UCLA's Mindfulness Awareness Research Center, regularly expressing gratitude actually changes the molecular structure of your brain.
It helps keep it functioning, and it literally can make you healthier and happier!
Researchers at the center found that gratitude and mindfulness helps improve your sleep, sharpen your thinking, and improve your immune system.
In fact, gratitude can help create new neural connections to your brain’s “bliss” center and improve the flow of dopamine and serotonin, two neurotransmitters responsible for happiness.
It also helps regulate your stress hormones, which can help reduce fear and anxiety.
Also, if you’re having a bad day, taking a moment to distract yourself by thinking about something that’s actually going WELL can turn it around. That’s because your brain has only so much energy to focus, so when you shift your thoughts to something positive – even if it’s something small – it can help turn your mood around.
Something as simple as the act of writing a “gratitude card” can make a surprisingly big difference in your life.
A study reported by the Greater Good Science Center found that writing thank you letters can have a positive impact that lasts at least 3 months.
Researchers found that people who wrote gratitude letters reported better mental health (better mood, less anxiety/depression) both 1 month AND 3 months afterwards, than those who wrote about negative experiences or didn’t write anything at all.
This can even have lasting effects on your brain’s prefrontal cortex, which is the area associated with learning and decision making.
So how about giving it a try and write one (or five) gratitude cards this week to someone you care about?!
Is there anyone that you’d like to thank? Or someone you want to let know that you’re thinking about them and wish them well?
It could be a teacher, a coach, a student, a friend … or a neighbor, family member, former boss or coworker.
Then… send them your gratitude card IN THE MAIL.
Are you up for this Gratitude Mini-Challenge?!
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Women's Wellness Circle: Create Your Extraordinary Life
Hi, I’m Crystal!