UPDATED: Mar 26, 2020
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It turns out giving thanks is good for your health. Research shows that appreciating what you have may be the key to living a healthier, happier life. Below are some ways that feeling grateful can improve your health.
Researchers at the University of Manchester in England studied more than 400 subjects (40 percent of which had sleep disorders) and found that those who felt more grateful also reported more positive thoughts and feelings, which allowed them to fall asleep faster and improved their overall quality of sleep. The research suggests that taking just a few minutes before bed to write down or say aloud a few things you’re grateful for might help you fall into a deep slumber.
According to a recent study in Human Development and Family Studies at Kent State University, increasing your level of life satisfaction may be as easy as writing a letter of gratitude. The study asked subjects to write a meaningful letter of gratitude to anyone they wanted. The more letters people wrote, the less they reported feeling symptoms of depression, and they noted feeling happier and more satisfied with life overall. If you are looking to increase your well-being and decrease depression, take 15 minutes three times over three weeks and write letters of gratitude to someone. There is a cumulative effect, too. If you write over time, you’ll feel happier, you’ll feel more satisfied, and if you’re suffering from depression, your symptoms will decrease.
A 2010 study published in the journal Personal Relationships found that taking the time to focus on the positive gestures your partner makes can help you feel more connected and satisfied in your relationship. Simply taking a few minutes each day to tell your partner one thing you appreciate about them can go a long way towards strengthening your bond. And a healthy relationship can go a long way in lengthening your lifespan.
Improve Mental Health
Feeling grateful can positively influence your wellbeing and quality of life, according to a 2007 study done by researchers at the University of California. A study tested recent organ recipients who were divided into two groups. One group kept routine daily notes about medication side-effects, how they felt about life overall, how connected they were to others, and how they felt about the upcoming day. The other group answered the same questions but were also asked to list five things or people they were grateful for each day and why. At the end of 21 days, the group that showed gratitude had improved their mental health and well-being scores, while the scores in the control group declined. The researchers say feelings of gratitude may distract from the challenges that a chronic medical condition can create.
Take time to recognize what you’re grateful for whether it’s in a journal, to your partner or just consciously noting it. This can help improve your overall health and even to outlive your term life insurance policy.