4 Reasons why gratitude is good for your health

4 Reasons why gratitude is good for your health
4 Reasons why gratitude is good for your health. Image by Gabrielle Hhenderson - Unsplash

The 9th of May was Mother’s Day, and while traditionally we think of this as a day to shower the moms in our lives with gifts – whether it’s a special lunch at a restaurant, flowers, chocolate or pamper goodies, it’s safe to say the last year has made us all far less materialistic. In 2021, what we value as true gifts are our health, human connection, and quality time with our loved ones.

With this new perspective, this year’s Mother’s Day gift could be as simple as a handwritten letter, a special song played on guitar… or just a Sunday picnic in your back garden. As well as being far more memorable and heartfelt, it turns out that these type of non-materialistic gifts are actually good for your health too. Here are four reasons why showing gratitude for the mother in your life benefits your wellbeing:

1. It helps improve your mood

A healthy mind is a key ingredient for a healthy body – and one of the best ways to keep your mind healthy is to keep it happy. A 2003 study found that practicing gratitude on a regular basis boosts your mood in a positive way. That makes sense: the more you appreciate yourself and the people close to you, the more you train yourself to look for the good – which automatically makes you feel better about your life and circumstances, no matter what they are. Even if you’re feeling down or are facing challenges in your life, showing your mother gratitude can help you feel better about yourself, and help you think positively about your life in general.

2. It improves your immune system

Health experts have long advocated that good physical habits like healthy eating, clean water, fresh air and regular exercise are important factors for a strong immune system. And while this is true, research has also found that non-physical factors can affect your immune system too. As an example, high stress levels can lower your immune system response, whereas increased mental wellbeing can help you fight illness. Practicing gratitude for the people in our lives can help alleviate stress, which means it can actually help your immune system function at an optimal level.

3. Optimism is good for healthy ageing

A 2019 study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that optimism is a key ingredient in maintaining people’s health as they age, and one of the easiest ways to feel optimistic is to show gratitude, both to yourselves and others. What this means is that showing gratitude to the mother in your life won’t just help her have fewer health problems as they age – it will do the same for you! Ageing in a healthier way also means fewer medical bills as you get older, and if you’re a member of a medical aid like Fedhealth, it means you’ll have to dip into your medical savings less, allowing you to access more money in future if you really need it.

4. It helps you sleep better

Here’s an unexpected benefit of practicing gratitude: you may be in for a better night’s sleep. A 2009 study of people with diagnosed sleep disorders found that those who practiced regular gratitude experienced better sleep quality and duration, and less sleep latency and daytime dysfunction. So, having an “attitude of gratitude” for your life and those in it means you may fall asleep easier, and have a more restful night.

This year’s Mother’s Day is a great opportunity to show appreciation for the special mom in your life in a way that’s truly from the heart. Apart from creating a really memorable day that stands out from the rest, you’ll also be optimising your health in the process – and in these Covid times, what better gift could we ask for than that?