Gratitude practice is something I got serious about several years ago when I first started doing morning routines … in fact, I also made this part of my nighttime routine with my daughters. It’s that important! You’re probably used to giving thanks a few times a year, but when you do it every day, there are benefits for your relationships, mental awareness, and even physical health.
In this post, I want to cover the science behind gratitude practice so you can understand why this powerful habit should be considered as part of your daily routine. Let’s dive in.
The Science of Gratitude Practice
It’s easy to feel grateful when someone does something kind for us or when we receive a special gift. What many of us don’t realize is that experiencing other forms of gratitude can increase positivity in our minds and body. The more we express this emotion, the more we feel empowered in our relationships and in our own personal lives.
Making Positive Connections
Increasing positivity within ourselves and with other people can actually strengthen our relationships. Verbally expressing our gratitude to friends, family, and even strangers lets others know we acknowledge the gift they’ve given to us. Even if it’s simply opening a door or carrying packages, it lets others know we appreciate them.
Boosts Security and Peace of Mind
We live in a society where many people feel lonely and unseen. Going the extra step to let others know how much we appreciate them is a way we can let others feel seen and loved. Taking a few extra moments to express gratitude can make them feel safe and add positivity to their lives.
When people feel lonely and unseen, depression sneaks in and produces negative emotions that can linger for a long time. Expressing gratitude can not only decrease our personal depression, but it can also rescue someone else from negative thoughts. Practicing gratitude increases neurochemicals in the brain, increasing serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin. When these chemicals increase, we can feel more connected to those around us.
Practicing Gratitude Changes Our Mental Awareness
Now that we have an idea of the science behind gratitude practice let’s look at how expressing this emotion can change our mental health and awareness.
Most men and women deal with stress in the workplace and sometimes at home as well. It’s no secret that stress raises blood pressure and cortisol levels. These levels play a major role in mental and physical health. However, those who give their time and attention to other people generally have lower blood pressure and cortisol levels. You can reduce several health risks by showing gratitude to those around you.
We already explored how gratitude decreases depression but did you know it also reduces anxiety? Many people who struggle with anxiety struggle with low self-esteem or even past trauma. The more you practice gratitude, the more your brain experiences a rise in oxytocin levels, leaving you feeling more positive. This feeling can calm your anxiety as you focus more on the people around you.
More Benefits of Gratitude Practice
The more you practice gratitude in your daily life within yourself and with those around you, the more natural you will find it feels. You may feel happier and more content with the things you have and the relationships in your life. The science behind this practice not only reduces health issues, as I talked about, but there are a few other benefits as well.
Improves Sleep Quality
If you have trouble falling or staying asleep, instead of counting sheep, try counting things and people you’re thankful for. Writing these things on paper or saying them out loud helps the brain better recall them later. This will also help boost your mood and calm your anxiety, so you better fall asleep.
Since practicing gratitude lowers stress and blood pressure, it also boosts your immune system. Research shows it can also reduce the risk of heart failure.
Boosts Positive Emotions
If you find yourself entertaining negative emotions, stop and list all the things you’re thankful for. This can increase the feeling of happiness and create a more positive outlook on life.
How Do You Practice Gratitude?
Now that we’ve explored the science and benefits of gratitude, how do we begin this lifelong practice? The best place is to begin and to stay consistent. Essentially, this practice is a habit that gradually increases every day. As you express gratitude daily, your brain will change and focus more on the positive things in your life instead of the negative ones. This is a powerful practice that you can easily pass on to others through your actions.
Begin today by journaling, meditating on positive things, telling someone around you about a pleasant experience, or focusing on things in nature. Some people keep a gratitude jar … they jot down something daily and place it in the jar. Other people quietly meditate or pray every day to express gratitude. Practicing every day will have lasting mental and physical benefits.
I hope this post encourages you to adopt gratitude practice as part of your life. It’s been life-changing for me…. I believe it can make a big difference for you as well.
- Gratitude practice will change your mindset.
- Over time, you will instinctively look for the good around you.
- Gratitude practice makes you feel happier.