What is Gratitude?
Gratitude is recognizing and appreciating the good in everyday things and people around you.
Science of Gratitude:
Gratitude is not just “feel-good fluff”. Gratitude research contains hundreds of articles proving the scientific benefit of practicing gratitude. Practicing gratitude improves heart health, blood pressure, skin, sleep, and the digestive system!
Gratitude and the Gut:
- In past blogs, I have discussed how the gut and brain are connected through the gut-brain axis. The gut is continuously sending signals to the brain and the brain is continuously sending signals to the gut. When you are grateful, you are content and happy. Your brain tells your gut you are OK and this allows your good gut bugs to thrive and aid in better digestion.
- When you are under stress, your body goes into “fight or flight” mode and your digestive system starts to “shut down”. This “shut down” causes abdominal pain, diarrhea, or constipation. When you practice gratitude, the digestive system stays in a “rest and digest” mode allowing easier digestion.
- Practicing gratitude makes you more aware of what is happening around you. Eating while sitting and not having a phone, computer, or TV in front of you, allows you to eat slowly and be aware of your chewing. Chewing triggers, the release of hormones that help you recognize when you are getting full. Eating quickly may cause you to miss these signals and leads to overeating and becoming uncomfortably full.
- Practicing gratitude helps improve the quality of your sleep. Studies have shown that when you have adequate sleep, your body has time to digest your food. Poor sleep hygiene leads to inflammation, which can manifest as abdominal pain, bloating, nausea, diarrhea, and constipation.
A recent study published in The Journal of Positive Psychology found that keeping a gratitude journal decreased materialism and bolstered generosity among adolescents.
Specific gratitude journals and free apps are available to help you practice gratitude.
Happier is a free app that helps users find, collect, and share positive moments in their lives with the entire Happier community.
Gratitude is a free app that will send you a text each morning. You can reply to that text number anytime you are feeling grateful that day. Each text you send gets stored in your own personal account, which you can revisit to re-read or even leave comments.
Grateful is a free app approach to gratitude journaling that makes it a go-to for busybodies who want to ease their way into a gratitude practice.
Day One is a gratitude journaling 2.0 free app, with the option to take photos, record voice notes, or jot down written notes.
To see the benefits of practicing gratitude, you have to commit to making it a part of your everyday life. Like anything worth doing, it requires practice, practice, practice.
- Decide how you will do it
- Decide when you will do it
- Stick to it