Give Thanks—It’s Good for You!

It’s officially November and that means in just a few short weeks we’ll be sitting around the Thanksgiving dinner table with loved ones enjoying a delicious meal of turkey, mashed potatoes and stuffing. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays for a number of reasons, first and foremost because it’s a chance to see family members I don’t see very often, and the delicious food and dessert doesn’t hurt either! More than that, this time of year I like to reflect on all that I am grateful for and appreciate everything that I have in my life. Thanksgiving is not the only day out of the year that we should be thankful however, because practicing the act of gratitude on a daily basis can have serious health benefits.

According to Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D., a psychology professor at University of California, Davis and the world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude, people who are grateful on a consistent basis experience several benefits to their health and well being. The key word here being “consistent,” as in not just on Thanksgiving. According to Emmons’ studies, people who practice gratitude regularly take better care of their health, exercise more, eat healthier, deal with stress better and have stronger immune systems. In addition, they have a better outlook on life, have improved romantic relationships, have a stronger work performance, sleep better and are overall happier and more optimistic

“Research has shown that gratitude protects us from depression and anxiety,” explains Anita Marchesani, Ph.D.?Executive Coach & Licensed Psychologist. “In the face of adversity, people who express more gratitude are better able?to cope with the stress of major life events. Just as importantly, gratitude ?is closely associated with overall life happiness. And happier people live ?longer, have more satisfying lives, and even perform better in their careers? than less happy people. It can all begin with the practice of gratitude.”

While the idea of giving thanks on a daily basis makes sense, it can be easier said than done. We all have our bad days and we have all been through difficult times where it may seem hard to be grateful. When it comes to practicing gratitude, remember to start small. Here are a few tips to start practicing gratitude on a daily basis:

  • Start your day by thinking of one thing you are thankful for each morning
  • Keep a gratitude journal (or try the Gratitude Journal iPhone App)
  • Help others, volunteer, donate your time and money
  • Be grateful for big things (your family and friends) and little things (a sunny day)
  • Try to look at the glass as half full instead of half empty
  • Remember the hard times you’ve been through. Reflecting on these hard times will remind you of what you are grateful for and will give you perspective.
  • Pray or meditate

Start small by taking just a few minutes to reflect on what you are grateful for on a daily basis until this ritual becomes a daily habit. And remember, Thanksgiving is an important time with family and friends to remember why you are grateful but try to extend this practice for the remaining 364 days of the year. So, what are your grateful for today?

For more information about Robert Emmons and his studies, visit http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/ten_ways_to_become_more_grateful1.

For more information about Dr. Anita Marchesani, please visit: http://dr-anita.com

Lauren Verini