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How Gratitude Impacts Our Mental Health and Wellbeing
There are many ways to give thanks and show gratitude. Meditate, reflect personally, journal, write a thank-you note… simply being grateful and expressing gratitude is linked to greater happiness in positive psychology. This article will outline some of the main ways that gratitude impacts our mental health and wellbeing.
Strengthens and builds relationships
Demonstrating appreciation can help bring people closer to us and lead us to maintain stronger relationships in our personal lives. In the workplace, gratitude can lead to higher levels of motivation among employees who are recognized and thanked by their managers or peers for their work.
Elevated level of inner happiness
Positive psychology research shows that gratitude is strongly and persistently linked with greater happiness. Gratitude leads to people feeling more positive emotions and enjoying good experiences more.
Optimism and positivity, which are feelings strongly linked to gratitude, have been shown to be associated with a longer life span. Grateful people report feeling healthier than other people, and they have certain habits ingrained in their life routines that contribute to further longevity. These habits include exercising, regularly attending check-ups at the doctor, and overall taking better care of their health.
Quality of sleep
Grateful people tend to have higher quality of sleep. Spending just a few minutes every day to reflect on what you are grateful for can lead to sleeping longer and better.
Some studies have shown that gratitude reduces social comparisons and increases self-esteem. Grateful people are actually able to show and/or feel appreciation for other people’s accomplishments, rather than feeling envious of them.
Leads to resilience
Gratitude helps us bounce back. Research has shown that gratitude, “not only reduces stress, but it may also play a major role in overcoming trauma”. Recognizing and being aware of everything you have to be thankful for — even throughout times of difficulty or adversity — cultivates resilience.
Uplifted mood and higher energy levels
Expressing or feeling gratitude increases the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine is known as our brain’s “feel-good” chemical, and it has many benefits including that it boosts our energy, activates our brain’s learning centers, and makes us feel more motivated and fulfilled. The increase in energy allows us to complete our daily goals and tasks, directly supporting our motivation and “feel-good” mental state.
Many companies are aiming to harness these positive benefits of gratitude by incorporating positivity and thankfulness as part of their workplace culture.
Helps us relax
Gratitude reduces negative or toxic emotions, such as envy, which in turn, allows us to relax and feel more calm.
Improves your decision-making and makes you more productive
Gratitude is linked with patience, which can aid in making your decision-making more effective. Furthermore, as mentioned with the release of dopamine comes a release of energy, leading to greater productivity and fulfillment.
The benefits of gratitude for our mental health and wellbeing are prevalent even when our feelings of gratitude are not shared. One study found that regardless of whether or not an individual actually sends their gratitude letter, the individual still experiences the benefits of gratitude. Therefore, start expressing or feeling gratitude at your own comfort level, introduce gratitude as a constant part of your lifestyle, and the positive benefits outlined above will follow gradually; the benefits of gratitude build over time.
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