Quite often we are concerned during the holiday meals with our diet and how it affects our health and fitness, when our greatest concern should just be thankfulness. Giving thanks can have curative and restorative properties. As we gather with family and friends over the holidays, remember that gratefulness has powerful healing effects.
Thankfulness can improve our emotional health tremendously. Science has shown that thankful people experience greater levels of positive emotions such as happiness, joy, optimism, love, and enthusiasm. Having a grateful attitude can protect us from the damaging effects of bitterness, resentment, greed and envy. Fear, anxiety, worry, anger, depression and guilt begin to disappear, bringing more ease and well-being to our body, soul and spirit.
Being thankful has also been shown to increase our ability to deal with stress. Distress can have a huge negative impact on our health. Gratefulness can normalize our body’s natural stress and anti-inflammatory hormones. Grateful people sleep better and awake feeling more refreshed.
Thankfulness also leads to a stronger immune function. This increased immune function decreases our episodes of illness and leads to a quicker recovery from illnesses. People who are grateful get sick less often.
Gratefulness also leads to an increased feeling of connectedness, which helps to improve our relationships and develops stronger family ties. Thankfulness can increase energy, attention, compassion and enthusiasm, and those who cultivate a grateful outlook are more likely to help others and offer emotional support.
Researchers have shown that those who keep a gratitude journal are more goal-oriented, exercise more regularly, feel better about their lives, and are more optimistic about the future.
There are some very simple things that we can do to practice thankfulness and improve our health. Simply saying ‘thank you’ allows others to know that you are thinking of them. Writing thank-you notes gives you an opportunity to reflect on what has been given and what it means to you and shares your gratitude with the giver. We can also say grace, giving thanks every day, even holding hands with others around the table. Keep a gratitude journal of what you are thankful for daily, including what or who inspired you, brought you happiness, comfort, or peace. This can shift our focus from the neutral or negative to the positive.
Remember to practice an attitude of gratitude over the holidays and in all things give thanks.