14 Ways Thankfulness Can Improve Your Health

Thankfulness Significant in Good Health
From the Hilbert College Wellness Center
by Kirsten Falcone, RN

Ask any health practitioner what the keys to good health are, and he or she will tell you exercise, proper nutrition, enough sleep, and (especially in this culture) the properly prescribed drug.

However, this season of Thanksgiving is the perfect timing to point out the connection between thankfulness (or gratitude) and good health.

Gratitude is defined as a highly positive feeling of being thankful for phenomena that are of personal value and significance.

Studies show that feeling gratitude has a positive correlation to good health.

Here are 14 of the many ways people with gratitude benefit:

  1. They take good care of themselves (exercise, healthy diet, regular physicals)
  2. They can handle stress better, thereby reducing ailments such as heart disease and cancer
  3. Their optimism boosts the immune system, protecting them from colds, flu and disease, but also making existing disease less damaging and more minor
  4. They are less affected by severe loss because they focus on what is positive, not what is negative
  5. Their gratitude can be a buffer against post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  6. Counting their blessings helps take the focus off negative thought patterns
  7. They live longer and have a slowed aging process
  8. They have lower rates of depression
  9. They are more patient
  10. They have healthier relationships
  11. They have greater willpower and self-control
  12. They have higher self-esteem
  13. Their feelings of thankfulness improve their quality of sleep
  14. They know the difference between instant gratification and true gratitude

What are some ways to show gratitude?

  • Being kind and respectful
  • Acknowledging that your good fortune is a result of a connection to something larger than yourself, such as other people, your environment and/or God
  • Thanking people! In person, or with a thank-you note
  • Thanking God! People who pray cultivate gratitude more easily than those who do not
  • Smiling—smiling produces positive feelings that improve mood

How can someone increase gratitude? Some ways are:

  • Showing gratitude (see above) can actually help increase gratitude
  • Keeping a gratitude journal
  • Writing a list of things in your life that you take for granted
  • Using positive self-talk
  • Finding a new perspective on your situation, to reframe it in a positive manner
  • Expressing your thankfulness to someone else
  • Finding the humorous side of your situation
  • Choosing to spend time with positive people
  • Practicing kindness
  • Thinking positive thoughts on purpose, especially about people and situations in your life

Many wise people have said, “What you choose to focus on will grow.” This Thanksgiving (and every day thereafter), choose to focus on gratitude!


If you read this article to the end, and you would like to enter the Hilbert College Wellness Center monthly drawing, stop by the Wellness Center between 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, or send me an email with a brief description of what you learned, at wellnesscenter@hilbert.edu.

For in-depth information on how Gratitude can improve physical and mental health, visit these sites:

Web MD:
https://www.webmd.com/women/features/gratitute-health-boost#1

Mayo Clinic (Positive vs. Negative Self-Talk):
https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/positive-thinking/art-20043950

Mayo Clinic (Practicing Kindness):
https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/how-sharing-kindness-can-make-you-healthier-happier/art-20390060

Harvard University (Information on Research and More…):
https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/giving-thanks-can-make-you-happier

Time Magazine (Research on the Health Benefits of Gratitude):
http://time.com/5026174/health-benefits-of-gratitude/

Mind Body Green:
https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-11819/scientific-proof-that-being-thankful-improves-your-health.html

Today (Be Thankful: Science Says Gratitude is Good for Your Health):
https://www.today.com/health/be-thankful-science-says-gratitude-good-your-health-t58256

Happier Human (31 Benefits of Gratitude):
https://www.happierhuman.com/benefits-of-gratitude/

Psychology Today (7 Scientfically Proven Benefits of Gratitude):
https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/what-mentally-strong-people-dont-do/201504/7-scientifically-proven-benefits-gratitude

Psychiatry (Research abstract on “Gratitude and Well Being, the Benefits of Appreciation”):
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3010965/

American Heart Association:
https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-lifestyle/mental-health-and-wellbeing/thankfulness-how-gratitude-can-help-your-health

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