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Give Thanks, for the health of it!

Gratitude.  We see it everywhere, especially this time of year. We hear it often, but do we really understand the power of giving thanks?  There is quite a bit of research with regards to gratitude and the powerful impact it can have on your health. 

Our cells are genuinely listening to our thoughts.  When we are stressed, worried, anxious or fearful our cells are alerted to this, and we go into survival mode.  Ready for fight, flight or freeze response.  When this happens our bodies cannot use energy for daily repair and restore. Instead, our energy is focused on surviving. 

When we begin to practice gratitude often, (and it takes practice) what we see is a body that feels safe, comfortable, calm.  We are able to focus our energy on repair, creativity, function.  Because our thoughts continue to come back to what we are thankful for, focusing on what we have and what makes us happy. There is no feeling of threat, danger or worry when we are mindful of giving thanks.  Our bodies can relax and enjoy life.

This is not a once-a-week task.  To see the benefit, you must make it a daily focus.  And you can’t just focus on gratitude and then get in the car and flip off every driver, or turn around and be rude to the check out person at the store.  You must carry it with you. Through your days, weeks, and months.

It is a mindset, a purposeful way of being. For your own health benefits but also to the benefit of those you encounter.  The beauty of it is just that. It is wonderful for your health, but it truly does change the environment in which you live.  When you are kind to others, they are kind to you. When you slow down and smile at others, you receive a smile in return.  And if you don’t, don’t sweat it.  That person may have noticed but could not respond with a smile. Who knows what others may be struggling with!

A study published in Psychosomatic Medicine examined the effects of gratitude journaling on patients quality of life with heart disease.  They found that gratitude journaling may improve biomarkers related to heart failure morbidity, such as reduced inflammation.  What an easy, cheap way to reduce inflammatory markers in your body and improve overall health. Find an old notebook, and write down daily what 3 things you are thankful for. Simple.

During this holiday season, be grateful.  Holidays can be stressful; families can be stressful.  But be mindful of all that you do have to be thankful for.  There is always someone who has it worse than you, and those you have it better. Sometimes it is just a quiet moment alone, a nice compliment from a friend, or just a smile from a stranger.
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