How Gratitude Changes Our Brains!❤
I listened to a podcast today on how gratitude changes our brain. So I wanted to share with you some of the things I learned from the Optimal Performance Podcast!
1) GRATITUDE IMPROVES MENTAL HEALTH
A 2015 article in The Journal of Personality and Individual Differences states that higher levels of gratitude were associated with higher levels of personal well being, greater life satisfaction and lower levels of psychological distress. A 2014 study be researchers found that gratitude increases happiness. A pair of 2014 studies in the Netherlands showed that both gratitude and acts of kindness have a strong effect on positive emotion. There are several researchers like Bruce Lipton, Jerry Tenant, and David Hopkins who all draw extremely strong correlations between positive emotions, quantum physics and changes in protein configuration in cell membrane voltage. Wow!
2) GRATITUDE IMPROVES PHYSICAL HEALTH
A 2015 paper in The Journal of Religion and Health found that those who were more grateful for who they are and what they have were both more hopeful and physically healthier. Psychology Today cites several studies that found people who report being more grateful also report fewer aches and pains and are more likely to go to the doctor and take care of themselves! I have lupus and fibro myalgia...and on the days where I feel grumpy and forget to be grateful, I actually hurt MORE. So I can testify, at least for me, that this is true. Research shows that when we think about what we appreciate, the parasympathetic or calming part of our nervous system is triggered, and that can have protective benefits on the body including decreased cortisol levels (prolonged stress hormone) and increased oxytocin (the bonding hormone developed in relationships that make us feel so good).
3) GRATITUDE IMPROVES RESILIENCY
In a 2006 study from The Journal of Behavioral Research and Therapy, scientists found that Vietnam war vets with high levels of gratitude were more resilient and less impacted by post-traumatic stress syndrome. Another paper 2003 the journal of personality and social psychology people with neuromuscular diseases who kept gratitude journals reported a greater sense of well being and more positive moods at the end of the study compared to those who didn't make such lists.
4) GRATITUDE MAKES YOU FEEL GOOD
Another benefit of gratitude is that it activates the brain stem region that releases dopamine and serotonin into the body (the pleasure hormones). Additionally, gratitude towards others increases activity in social dopamine circuits which makes social interactions more enjoyable! Like the antidepressant Prozac, gratitude increases circulating levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin. Thinking of things you're grateful for forces on the positive aspects of your life. If you are in need of some natural vitamin and mineral support, reach out to me. I used to take Wellbutrin and Ativan for anxiety and I no longer take them, I use natural remedies.
5) GRATITUDE IMPROVES SLEEP
I've been hearing from my friends that they haven't been able to sleep because of stress and the uncertainty with everything that has been going on lately. So being grateful can help you get better sleep! In a 2009 study from The Journal of Psychosomatic Research, researchers concluded that those who expressed gratitude more often slept better and longer than those who didn't. According to a 2011 study published in Applied Psychology, writing in a gratitude journal will improve sleep. Something as simple as writing down a list of things you are thankful at the end of the day can help you sleep better.
What we do daily in my house is I first get up and stretch, then I pray. I thank God for all my blessings and share with him what I'm grateful for. So - try prayer or mediation about what you're grateful for and see how that might change you!
Acts of kindness can also improve your brain, so every week I do what's called Wealth Wednesday - I'll perform random acts of kindness. It doesn't have to cost much! Put a quarter in the Aldi cart. Give a friend a call. Send flowers to a friend. That can help rewire your brain!
I also have my family write collaboratively in a Gratitude Journal. Looking back, my kids have written some pretty great things! It's a great way to share our gratefulness and teach to your kids. We also keep a box that says "Start every day with a grateful heart". I've dubbed it our Coronavirus Grateful Box. I'm having my family write on scraps of paper and submit what they're grateful for while we're stuck in quarantine. Then when we can get back to life as usual, we can look back and reflect.
I hope these ideas can help you and your family! And if you need some additional help, don't be afraid to reach out to me. Sometimes you never know if you could possibly be mineral deficient or another silent issue! Reach out to me and I would be happy to help you if you just need d little more than just a Gratitude Journal.
"The more you practice gratitude, the more you are attuned to it, and the more you can enjoy its psychological benefits." - Ben Greenfield