The health perks of gratitude

The Paquin family from Mora.

Welia Health thanks 7 Paisley Pumpkins photography and the Paquin family: Sam, Kirsten, Linley and Quinn for sharing their beautiful smiles. The Paquins are from Mora.

At Welia Health, we’re feeling extremely grateful because of you, our patients and communities. Also, thank you for your patience and support over the past few months, as we rolled out our new name and logo. We know you’ve heard a lot from us lately and appreciate your listening—and we appreciate you.

Too often in today’s fast-paced world, we don’t slow down enough to say thank you. But we should. Besides being a nice thing to do, expressing gratitude has proven health perks, according to a vast body of research.

Here are 7 ways gratitude benefits our health:

  1. Boosts the brain: When we’re truly grateful, our brain rewards us with good feelings. These feelings of gratitude flood our brains with the feel-good chemical dopamine. Gratitude also activates the hypothalamus, the part of the brain that regulates our appetites, sleep, temperature, metabolism and growth. Research shows that these neurological effects contribute to other health benefits.
  2. Improves sleep: In the holiday classic White Christmas, Bing Crosby’s character Bob Wallace croons to Rosemary Clooney’s Betty Haynes that she should “count her blessings, instead of sheep.” Turns out Mr. Wallace was right. Research shows that when people express what they’re grateful for before bed, they’re more likely to fall asleep faster, have fewer disruptions to their sleep and wake up feeling more refreshed.
  3. Eases depression: Reflecting on the good things that happen to you in a day can help increase happiness and ease depression. Multiple studies on the benefits of gratitude practices have shown that keeping a gratitude journal, or writing and sending thank you notes can increase our long-term happiness by more than 10%. Similarly, research shows that people who participate in the “three good things” exercise see notable improvements in depression and overall happiness.
  4. Enhances self-care: If you’re the type of person who expresses gratitude, it’s more likely that you’ll take better care of yourself. Research shows positive correlations between gratitude and good-for-you behaviors such as exercise, healthy eating and going to the doctor.
  5. Improves relationships: Expressing gratitude can improve relationships, particularly romantic ones. There’s a good chance you don’t need research to tell you this one. But in case you’d like the science to back it up, see the 2010 article in Science Daily, It’s the little things: Everyday gratitude as a booster shot for romantic relationships. More generally, when you express gratitude, you can increase feelings of belonging and decrease feelings of loneliness or isolation.
  6. Reduces symptoms and pain: In a 2003 study, Counting Blessings vs. Burdens, patients with neuromuscular disease were made to write in a gratitude journal. Sixteen percent of subjects reported reduced symptoms, and 10% of subjects reported a decrease in pain. They were also more willing to exercise, and were far more motivated in their recovery than a control group.
  7. Increases patience: Being grateful for little, everyday things can even make you more patient, according to research. Patience equips us to make sensible decisions and increase self-control—which might be helpful around the holiday dessert table! Given our gratitude to you, our waistlines might be helped!

Thank you for being choosing Welia Health, for our patients and for your your continued support.

We are grateful for you.