Instead of waiting for the Thanksgiving holiday to express feelings of gratitude, health professionals suggest a weekly or daily dose of thankfulness can benefit you in many ways. From sleeping better at night to improving your relationships and having more energy and enthusiasm for life, gratitude can have a powerful impact on your life. The only catch is that you have to practice it by taking some action, such as sending thank you cards to friends, family and others who have done you a kindness. Practicing gratitude doesn't have to take a lot of time or money, but the rewards can be life-changing.
The Science of Gratitude
Researchers from Harvard and Berkeley, along with psychologists at many professional organizations have released studies about how gratitude affects the body. One specific example is that it increases blood flow to the brain and boosts activity in the hypothalamus, which controls one's bodily functions, including metabolism, stress responses, sleeping, eating and drinking. This is just a glimpse of the science behind the gratitude phenomenon that brings such great results.
Improved Emotional Health
Starting a gratitude journal is one of the best ways to begin reaping the benefits. Paying attention to the good, instead of the bad, parts of your life can make you feel more content. This also helps ease depression, improves self-esteem and makes you more resilient in dealing with those bad times that come to everyone.
Many find that showing gratitude also helps them feel more optimistic in general because they find more for which to be grateful. It also leads to increased spirituality and reduced materialism, breaking you away from the mentality of always wanting more. You can also experience a reduced self-interest and increased effort to share with others, giving you a less self-centered outlook on life.
Along with making you happier in your personal life, practicing gratitude spills over into your relationships. Social benefits include a variety of positive impacts, for you and for those in your life.
- Friends: You are more likely to work together to resolve issues and arguments. Working things out typically makes a friendship stronger and more likely to last.
- Romantic partners: Significant others feel more appreciated when you express gratitude, and you feel better about them; the result is an improved relationship.
- Yourself: As a happier person who wants to be around others, more people want to become friends with you. They see you as more friendly, appreciative and trustworthy.
- Family: Gratitude acts as a buffer against anxiety and depression and strengthens family relationships, helping you better deal with tough situations.
Improving all of these relationship areas, whether you send thank you cards, gifts, or simply pick up the phone, provides you with a great network of social support should you need it. The irony in practicing gratitude and increasing your social network is that you are also less likely to need the support.
Happier at Work
Practicing gratitude at work benefits both the business and its employees. When you're happier at work, your long-term decision-making gets a boost because you're less likely to feel the pressure and need for short-term fixes that don't really solve anything. You're more patient when dealing with turmoil and can stay focused on long-term strategies that benefit more people, and the company, in the end.
Gratitude also makes you a better manager, one who can better praise, motivate and mentor others. This is true for people at all levels, from executives and middle managers to supervisors, team leaders and more. Expressing gratitude by sending business thank you cards to staff to note their hard work and accomplishments makes employees feel valued, reduces stress and leads to less employee turnover as well.
Improved Physical Health
Gratitude visits, such as treating someone to lunch or dropping by to visit with custom thank you cards, have been shown to reduce symptoms of depression for many weeks. The same effects can be felt with gratitude journaling, for as long as that journaling continues. A brighter outlook also reduces your blood pressure and improves your sleep quality by reducing anxiety.
Gratitude journaling before turning in each night is a good routine to begin, as it becomes a natural de-stressor. When you feel better about yourself, you're also more likely to take better care of yourself; being grateful makes you more likely to exercise and boosts your overall physical health. Increasing your physical and mental health in turn increases your energy levels and you benefit from both sides of this cycle.
Shop and Give Back Too
Shopping at Cards for Causes is a great way to express gratitude. Along with the person or people who receive your personal thanks, you can show gratitude for the good in your life by sharing with others. Our name is our mission, and 20% of every purchase goes to the charity of your choice. Give back to your favorite cause by purchasing thank you cards today.