Why Gratitude Is Healthy

When was the last time you stopped to really acknowledge the things you’re thankful for?

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There’s a whole host of reasons why we should make gratitude a daily practice — research has shown that being thankful confers a whole host of health benefits, from improved immune systems, to feelings of connectedness, even higher team morale.

We gathered a few of the biggest health benefits — both physical and mental — of gratitude.

It boosts well-being.

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Being constantly mindful of all the things you have to be thankful for can boost your well-being, research suggests. In a series of experiments detailed in a 2003 study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, daily exercise practices and listing off all the things you are thankful for are linked with a brighter outlook on life and a greater sense of positivity. “There do appear to exist benefits to regularly focusing on one’s blessings,” the researchers wrote in the study. “The advantages are most pronounced when compared with a focus on hassles or complaints, yet are still apparent in comparison with simply reflecting the major events in one’s life, on ways in which one believes one is better off than comparison with others, or with a control group.”

It makes you a better friend.

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According to a 2003 study in the the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, gratitude could also boost pro-social behaviors, such as helping other people who have problems or lending emotional support to another person.

It helps you sleep better.

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Writing down what you’re thankful for as you drift off to sleep can help you get better ZZs, according to a study in the journal Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being. Specifically, researchers found that when people spent 15 minutes jotting down what they’re grateful for in a journal before bedtime, they fell asleep faster and stayed asleep longer, Psychology Today reported.

It benefits the heart.

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A 1995 study in the American Journal of Cardiology showed that appreciation and positive emotions are linked with changes in heart rate variability. [This] may be beneficial in the treatment of hypertension and in reducing the likelihood of sudden death in patients with congestive heart failure and coronary artery disease.