“Thank you” notes for a healthier life

Woman writing thoughts of gratitude in journal

Thanksgiving is typically the one time of the year when we make an effort to reflect about what we’re grateful for. But by adopting an “attitude of gratitude” beyond the holiday season, you can enjoy many lasting health benefits.1

The results of being grateful

If you take some time each day to jot down the reasons you’re grateful, you could see some pretty powerful results:

1. A positive charge
In a series of experiments detailed in a 2003 study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology,2 the act of listing 3 to 5 things you’re thankful for every day in a gratitude journal improves your outlook.

2. Better sleep
Researchers also found that updating your gratitude journal at bedtime3 also helps you worry less, which in turn helps you get to sleep faster.

3. A big, big love
Journaling or expressing the ways you feel grateful for a loved is also linked to partners feeling more connected and satisfied in their relationships.5

4. A boost to the immune system
The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology4 study also linked journaling gratitude to better health. Gratitude breeds optimism and participants in the study exercised more regularly, decreasing their cortisol levels.6 Cortisol is a stress hormone, linked to our ability to fight off colds.

If keeping a physical journal seems too difficult, try finding a free diary app for your smartphone. Or start small and find little ways to celebrate the things that made your day great. What are you grateful for today?

Sources

  1. Robert Emmons, “Why Gratitude Is Good,” Greater Good Magazine, last accessed May 14, 2019, https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/why_gratitude_is_good., opens new window
  2. Robert A. Emmons and Michael E. McCullough, “Counting Blessings versus Burdens: An Experimental Investigation of Gratitude and Subjective Well-Being in Daily Life,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 84, No. 2 (2003): 377–389, accessed May 14, 2019, doi:10.1037/0022-3514.84.2.377.
  3. Linda Wasner Andrews, “How Gratitude Helps You Sleep at Night,” Psychology Today, last accessed May 14, 2019, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/minding-the-body/201111/how-gratitude-helps-you-sleep-night., opens new window
  4. Robert A. Emmons and Michael E. McCullough, “Counting Blessings versus Burdens: An Experimental Investigation of Gratitude and Subjective Well-Being in Daily Life.”
  5. “Gratitude for ‘Little Things’ Is Key to Relationships,” The Telegraph, last accessed May 14, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/sex/7756775/Gratitude-for-little-things-is-key-to-relationships.html., opens new window
  6. John Tierney, “A Serving of Gratitude May Save the Day,” The New York Times, last accessed May 14, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/22/science/a-serving-of-gratitude-brings-healthy-dividends.html., opens new window