How can we talk about anything in November without talking about gratitude?
Thanksgiving is more than delicious turkey and warm apple pie (although they’re both good things to be grateful for!) Thanksgiving is the ultimate reminder to be grateful for all we have in our lives — our family, friends, homes, careers, and of course, our health. And the more we practice gratitude, the healthier we’ll be.
It’s no secret that gratitude improves a person’s health—not just mentally and emotionally but also physically. It’s been noted that behavior changes biology. It releases oxytocin, a hormone that helps us connect with others. So, it’s not just about feeling happier (which we will); it’s also about actual physical improvements to our bodies.
Over the years, studies have shown the incredible benefits of gratitude, including advances in a person’s:
- Blood pressure
- Personal growth
- Professional growth
Gratitude has also decreased anxiety, depression, chronic pain, and risk of disease. If a pill resulted in all these benefits, we would certainly take it each day. But the beautiful part is that we don’t have to. To reap these benefits, we must remember to be grateful for at least one thing each day. It shouldn’t be too hard, right? But sometimes, we can all acknowledge it’s not as easy as we think. Occasionally, we’ve had a bad day, and we allow those negative emotions to control us for a while. Soon, everything seems worse than it is because we are in an emotionally draining downward spiral.
The key to getting out of that spiral is to be mindful that there is always something to be grateful for. It doesn’t have to be something huge or life-changing. It can be gratitude for the beautiful sunrise that morning, a funny text your friend sent, seeing a rainbow, or for a big client, you just landed, hearing your favorite song on the radio, or your child’s laughter. Our bodies can’t distinguish between something small and large. It only registers gratitude.
So, what are some practical ways to incorporate gratitude into your daily routine?
- Practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is about being aware of our thoughts, emotions, sensations, and environment. In those moments when you’re feeling despair, please take account of understanding why those emotions exist and allow yourself room to step outside of them to think about something that brings you joy. Then, take another moment to express gratitude for it.
- Start each morning with gratitude. Before you even get out of bed each morning, give thanks to someone or something. Think it to yourself or say it out loud but acknowledge the feeling.
- Practice gratitude breathing during the day. This is a mindful breathing exercise where you align each inhale with something you are grateful for and exhale, releasing any tension and negative thoughts you’re holding.
- Keep a gratitude journal for bedtime. Each night, write down five or more things you are grateful for that day—anything at all. Writing amplifies appreciation and gratitude, so commit to writing in your journal each night. As one of the last actions you take before going to sleep, it also helps you fall asleep faster and for extended periods.
- Take action. Remember to think thoughts of gratitude and thank the person involved when the time is right. Just like writing, expressing gratitude to someone else only amplifies the rush of positive emotions.
Intending to practice gratitude, you also plan to live healthier. To that end, I am thankful for the environmentally friendly, chemical-free products offered by Nikken and Norwex, which we use in our homes every day. We are forever grateful that we have created our healthy home this way!
Life is filled with reasons to be grateful. They surround us daily. Our only job is to remember to take notice and express appreciation for them—not just in November, but always.
I wish everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving!