Reviewed By Pamela Kirkpatrick - Senior Accredited NCS & Registered Member MBACP Adv. Dip.
The Positive Effects of Gratitude
10 February 2023
We absolutely know that an effective and consistent, gratitude practice can have huge long term positive effects on mental and physical health.
Often people are doubtful that Gratitude practices are effective. A lot of people think its a wee bit airy fairy or a bit woo woo!
I am here to tell you today that we absolutely know that an effective and consistent, gratitude practice can have huge long term positive effects on mental and physical health.
What Impact Can A Gratitude Practice Have?
We need practices that benefit us not only when we’re practising them but also outside of the practice itself without too much hard work or disruption, something that can easily be incorporated into our daily routines, and something that can evolve to suit our needs and comfort levels. That is why I feel gratitude is such an important, and overlooked tool that really has to be tried, consistently, to be believed. A consistent practice, even just 2 to 3 times a week, can benefit so many aspects of our physical and emotional health such as:
- Improving cardiovascular health
- Heightening immunity
- Lowering inflammation
- Reducing anxiety & depression symptoms
- Increasing resilience & ability to cope with adversity
- Strengthening our relationship with ourselves/others
- Boosts self-esteem & optimism
- Increasing feelings of joy, happiness and awe.
- Enhancing awareness of meaning, purpose & fulfilment in life
- Encourages us to be more generous and forgiving
- Helps us to become more present and gives perspective
How A Consistent Gratitude Practice Affects The Brain
A consistent gratitude practice actually alters our neural circuits in the brain by altering our fear based circuits and our prosocial (happiness) based circuits.
Whenever we are consistently practising gratitude, we are using the wonderful, lesser known about ability of our brains to rewire themselves, neuroplasticity. That means that the more we use a gratitude practice, the more it becomes ingrained in our brains. This actually changes our brain, so that gratitude and more positive thinking patterns are more likely to occur rather than, say, more negative thinking patterns. Neuroplasticity is a use it or lose it game, which is why I suggest that if you struggle with practices like these, that you start slowly; little and often.
After consistent use you will start to notice that when you are going about your normal everyday life, that your brain will choose these happiness prosocial circuits rather than, say, fear based circuits. Therefore, we are happier on average more of the time, automatically.
Gratitude Is A Practice
If you’d like to try a consistent gratitude practice I have a few that are great starting points that I am going to share with you through the "Inspire Me" blog. I suggest you find one that you like the most, there are lots out there and I encourage you to explore to find one that suits you. If we enjoy something we are engaging in we are way more likely to do it consistently, and then reap the rewards that a gratitude practice can bring.
Get Inspired Further
We often think of meditation as somebody sitting serenely cross legged, but you can engage in meditation through activities too.
what is mindfulness
When it comes to wellness and feeling better in our minds, there are a few healthy habits we can adopt in everyday life which can make a big difference to how we feel.
alternative nostril breathing
This simple breathing exercise which has been seen to lower, stress & anxiety and improve memory & focus, give it a try!