Gratitude and Health – Does it Really Make a Difference?

Updated: Nov 26, 2020

Welcome to another week in wellness with Purely Simple Organic Living! We wanted to start this post by thanking all of our readers for following along with our blog posts each week and providing us with incredible feedback along the way.

With that, we will segue into our topic of the week: gratitude!

What if you spent less time complaining and more time enjoying life? What if I told you that incorporating a gratitude practice into your daily routine could help you unlock your best self? What if I told you there are both emotional and physical benefits to practicing gratitude? So for those wondering, YES, gratitude does make a difference in your health!

While saying “thank you” and “I appreciate it” are ways to show gratitude, gratitude can also be a life orientation towards appreciating and noticing all positive things in life.

To practice gratitude simply means to do it with intention.

Think of it as something you practice as you might practice meditation or yoga. A simple mind frame shift from “I hate Mondays” to “I am grateful that I get to spend another day on Earth” is one way to start generating more positivity in your life, and, in turn, attract positive energy! For this blog, we will talk about some of the benefits of gratitude practices, as well as suggestions on how to incorporate it in your daily life!

What are the Benefits of Gratitude?

Research on the daily practice of gratitude has been growing in recent years, and the benefits have been measurable. Robert Emmons, UC Davis psychologist and leading scientific expert on gratitude, has found that gratitude has many positive effects on a person’s physical, psychological, and social wellbeing1.

Some of these cited effects are improved sleep, strengthened immune system, lower blood pressure, increased optimism and positive emotions, improved social life, and less feelings of isolation, among others1. Feelings of gratitude block out the toxic, negative emotions that extinguish our happiness–such as envy, regret, and resentment.

It is difficult to feel both grateful and resentful, as these feelings are incompatible!

A 2008 study published in the Journal of Research in Personality also found that gratitude practices can reduce the frequency and duration of episodes of depression, as well as building up resilience in depression onset later in life2.

Some Easy Ways to Practice Gratitude

There are so many things we overlook on the daily that we can stop and be appreciative of. For example, you wake up in the morning and enjoy a nice breakfast of fresh fruit and oatmeal. You can start by expressing gratitude towards the meal for being enjoyable and nourishing to your body.

Now, go back even further and think about all the elements that contributed to you breakfast: the crops, the soil, the farmers, the packagers, the distributors…etc. Now do you see how far gratitude can extend? Taking everyday indulgences and being conscious and appreciative of them and their origins is one way to shift to a gratitude mindset. Below are some other simple ways to incorporate gratitude into your daily life:

Gratitude Journal

Gratitude journaling can significantly increase well-being and life satisfaction1. For this, you can simply grab a notebook and spend a couple minutes each night jotting down 3 to 5 highlights from your day! These can be as specific or as simple as you would like… “I am thankful for waking up today” or “I am thankful for the time I got to sit in traffic and listen to my favorite song”.

This is also a great practice in finding gratitude in seemingly mundane tasks or even difficult times. We recommend the Trybal Gratitude Journal by Alexsys Thompson that features 365 days of guided gratitude journaling practices.

Using Gratitude for Sleep

If you are prone to restless nights or frequently wake up from your sleep, you can utilize thoughts or statements of gratitude to help relax the mind and body. Instead of worrying about how much time you have left to sleep or what all you h