The Healing Power of Gratitude.
The month of November is a wonderful time of year! Thanksgiving provides a unique opportunity to blend food, family, and football, while also encouraging a spirit of gratitude and giving. For as long as I can remember, my family would go around the table to share what we were thankful for before enjoying our Thanksgiving dinner. I know we aren’t alone in this practice. We are all thankful for our family, friends, jobs, home, and especially the food.
Over the past few years, many people I know, including myself, have engaged in “30 days of gratitude” during the month of November. While expressing what you are grateful for each day is life giving…it is not always easy! I’m glad we have so much to be thankful for, but to be totally honest, I would love gratitude to shift from a day, a season, or a series of fleeting moments to a way of life! True gratitude is a powerful healer, and that happens when our gratitude goes beyond the things we perceive to be “good.”
When we are stressed, our mind narrows and focuses on the perceived danger, and as a result the body stiffens. Additionally, the hormones adrenaline and cortisol signal the fight or flight response, consequently resulting in full-on “stress mode”! Gratitude, on the other hand, causes our body to relax and “expand” on all levels which allows our minds to be open to much greater possibilities. Before 2000, there were less than two dozen scientific studies about the effects of gratitude on physical health. Thankfully scientists are increasingly interested its effect on overall heath. In the past four years alone, there were numerous studies showing the ways gratitude positively impacted health. One example was long-term survivorship in breast cancer patients. Another showed its impact on blood pressure regulation in the elderly. Other studies also showed the benefit for those who struggled with fatigue, depression, and inflammation.
Starting November 1, we are doing a 30-Day Gratitude Challenge. If you would like to join us and receive daily reminders, send Dr. Brooke an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stay tuned for part 2 where we discuss some ways to improve gratitude in your life!