Why Gratitude Makes Us Healthier

Why Gratitude Makes Us Healthier
Why Gratitude Makes Us Healthier

Make a list of what you’re grateful for!

Recite your gratitude list before you fall asleep at night!

We’ve all read the advice on practising gratitude but let’s face it – when we’re under severe stress, being grateful is the last thing we feel like doing. But this isn’t some “woohoo” practise. There are some physiological reasons why being grateful can make us healthier and happier…two attributes we certainly all want to channel in the rest of 2021 and beyond.

Here’s why reflecting on your year and showing some appreciation, no matter how bad it’s been, can be incredibly valuable for your physical and emotional wellbeing:

  1. It improves relationships

It’s not just about yourself. Expressing gratitude to your partner or your kids, for all the little things they do, can do wonders for your relationships too. Try saying “thanks for checking in on me” when a friend texts to ask how you are, or “thanks for keeping your room so neat” when your 6-year-old tries to make his bed. These little boosts of love and appreciation will revolve around your household (and the world) and make everybody that little bit happier.

  1. Fewer visits to the doctor

Two psychologists, Dr. Robert A. Emmons of the University of California and Dr. Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami asked a group of people over a period of ten weeks to record things they were grateful for. They asked a second group to record things that had displeased them and a third group to simply record things that had affected them (both negative and positive). They found that those who wrote about gratitude experienced fewer visits to their doctor, compared to those who listed things that had made them unhappy. This sort of thing will clearly have a knock-on effect on your medical aid, as you will keep your day-to-day medical expenses lower, which will save you money in the long run too. Some companies like Fedhealth offer access to day-to-day benefits that you only pay for once you use them, which helps reduce your monthly contributions.

  1. We’re more productive at work

We all know that a simple “thank you” for a job well done makes us more motivated to produce better work. So why don’t we express gratitude at work more often? The excuse that we’re too busy is simply not enough. Researchers at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania placed fund-raisers into two groups. The first group made phone calls to solicit donations in the same way they always had. The second group were given a motivational talk from the organisation director, who told the fund-raisers she was grateful for their efforts. After this, the second group who heard her message of gratitude made 50% more fundraising calls than those who didn’t. Makes sense doesn’t it?

  1. You’ll sleep better

A 2011 study published in Applied Psychology stated that people who spend 15 minutes jotting down a few grateful sentiments before bed, slept better and longer than those who didn’t. Why? Well, scientists say that these positive thoughts before you go to sleep can help calm the nervous system, leading to better quality sleep overall.

It’s clear that gratitude has multiple benefits when it comes to both our bodies and our minds, so it makes sense to weave a little more into our lives: whether this is expressing it in person to the people around you, or writing down grateful thoughts on a regular basis. Try it and see what happens – it can’t hurt!