When we think about our health, we think in terms of what we're eating, what we're drinking, how much we're exercising -- but we rarely think about our health being related to what we think about. If this is not something you consider regularly, start digging deep into the idea that your thoughts, your attitude, and your mental tone have an incredible amount of power over your health. The best place to start is with gratitude. We all have something to be grateful for, so it's the best place to begin. Here’s why gratitude is so essential to your health:
Gratitude boosts feelings of satisfaction. Show your gratitude by putting it in writing. Write and mail three thank you cards this week. Write them to your kids’ teachers, to your parents, to your spouse, your best friend. Writing letters of gratitude will ensure you feel good inside and out, and you'll be spreading those good feelings to your recipients.
Gratitude builds relationships. Find ways to express gratitude in appreciation for the things people do for you. Even if it's just your kids putting the dishes in the dishwasher – remember to express your gratitude. It will motivate them to keep doing more, and it will reduce your stress by seeing the good in things.
Gratitude helps your mental wellness. Taking a moment to be thankful for the things you have despite your challenges is good for your mental health and well-being. Sometimes it can be hard to see the good things in life, so consider recording your thoughts in a gratitude journal. When you feel low, you can read through your notes and find something to smile about. As an added bonus, it boosts more than your mood by increasing energy levels too.
You’ll sleep better. When you find things to be grateful for instead of focusing on the negativity, it allows your mind to relax. This, in turn, leads to better sleep. Are you a list maker? Try writing a gratitude list before you go to bed. This habit is simple, yet powerful, and you’ll probably notice you fall asleep faster.
Gratitude can help with exercise too. With recognition for things that you’re grateful for, you feel happier. Feeling happier gives you more energy, and hence, it will keep you feeling good about your workouts too. Sometimes the only thing we need is the motivation to START the workout, and a positive attitude helps get you there.
Don't mistake these points for feeling like you have to be positive 24/7. Other emotions are real, necessary, and deserve to be honored. By all means, feel your feelings and steadily work through them -- but choosing to practice gratitude daily will shift your thoughts and actions in a positive direction.
Take action this week by choosing to be grateful for all things – big and small – then take stock on your attitude. Are your thoughts lighter? Do you have more energy? Are you smiling more? Are people more drawn to you? Now that’s something to be thankful for!
Sara Wolfsen is a Certified Health & Lifestyle Coach who specializes in helping people make their own healthy changes by providing private health and lifestyle coaching, nutrition education and wellness classes with guidance and gentle support for lasting weight loss and building healthier habits. Learn more online at www.sarawolfsen.com.