Reduce Stress With a Spirit of Gratitude

Being grateful… not just an old cliché.

Many of us have been told to be thankful for what we have – for food, clothes, the roof over our heads… We’ve heard of sayings like, “Count your blessings…” and others that encourage the message of gratitude. And many of us are thankful – it seems the moral thing to do. However, there’s more to this old adage.

“According to a study conducted by Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky, University of California, “Gratitude promotes the savoring of positive life experiences and situations so that maximum satisfaction and enjoyment are distilled from one’s circumstances.” She adds, “The practice of gratitude appears to be incompatible with negative emotions and thus may reduce feelings of envy, anger, or greed.” Couldn’t we all use a little less negativity and a little more happiness?

Other research about the connection between gratitude and physical well being resulted in participants with higher energy, positive mood – including lower levels of depression and stress, a greater sense of feeling connected to others, more optimistic views of one’s life, and better duration and quality of sleep.

The expression of gratitude has also been found to contribute to positive changes in cardiovascular, immune and physiological functions, including improved heart, pulse, and respiration rates, among other things.

It also contributes to more satisfactory relationships. Appreciative gestures – such as acknowledging the efforts of others and expressing thanks – build a positive rapport and increases the likelihood of cooperative efforts and greater happiness. People’s lives have been shown to be more meaningful and fulfilling when considered with appreciation.

It’s also simple common sense when you think about it… If we’re constantly obsessed with wanting more, bigger or better – without feeling satisfied with things we have – is it any wonder our health is being compromised or that we feel stressed and overwhelmed?

It can be easy to slip into the habit of ruminating about what we don’t have, and no matter how hard we try to achieve more, it still doesn’t seem like enough. How often do you find yourself so preoccupied with what you don’t have that you become oblivious to the great things already in your life?

Many of us work hard to achieve our goals, but how often do we take time to savor our hard earned accomplishments? It’s on to the next goal without taking time to appreciate what we’ve done. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves by constantly pushing, without really embracing the enjoyment that comes from having achieved our goals. Being grateful can alleviate that pressure.

Gratitude reduces stress – acknowledging our accomplishments, expressing appreciation for what we have and for the people that contribute to our lives, instills a positive mindset that promotes feelings of satisfaction and well being.

It’s not just an old cliché… Counting your blessings isn’t just a moral code – it has many benefits that contribute to our lives on multiple levels, fostering a sense of contentment and peace – things that many of us would love a little more of!

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Columnist and Freelance Writer – Your 'go to' for emotional well-being… When we feel better, we do better.