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What is gratitude? Do you remember the last time you expressed gratefulness for anything? If not, you are missing out!  Do you know that gratitude influences both your physical and your emotional health? Having an attitude of gratefulness has several health benefits and that will make you grateful you read this article.

First, let’s talk about what happens in the brain when we express true, heartfelt, gratitude. From a physiological standpoint our bodies release neurotransmitters called dopamine and serotonin when we express feelings of gratefulness. It has been cited as a ‘natural antidepressant. These neurotransmitters are our “feel good” hormones. We feel content, satisfied, and more at peace with others, as well as ourselves when these hormones are released by the brain.

Now that you know what happens in the brain and how we feel when we express gratitude, let’s discuss the physical affects that his has on our body.

Do you know that gratitude promotes good heart health?

By making it a priority to practice an attitude of gratitude, you may improve your immune function and have lower cholesterol levels. What does this mean for you? You are better able to fight off viral and bacterial infection and see lower blood pressure results.

Do you know that gratitude promotes better sleep?

One study of 400 people showed that expressing gratitude before bed helped individuals sleep longer, have better sleep quality, and fell asleep faster. Those happy hormones that we discussed earlier will not only life your spirits, but also create feelings of serenity with released at bedtime.

Do you know that gratitude helps with weight loss? Yes, weight loss!

When we choose to show gratitude on a consistent basis and release those positive neurotransmitters, we are lowering our cortisol levels which are high during times of stress. That’s the hormone that is our “fight, flight or freeze” hormone. When we lower our stress levels by showing gratitude, we will be less likely to seek out those comfort foods and not self-medicate with desserts and high, simple carb foods. See the correlation?

Think better, eat better, feel better.

Do you there are tips for practicing gratitude:

  • Begin writing in a gratitude journal. Each morning, write down at least three things you are grateful for. Say them out loud.
  • Say “thank you” and show appreciation for the little things you experience during your day.
  • When you lay down to go to sleep, read and say those three things out loud that you wrote down that morning. Take the time to think about those things. Visualize them in your mind

This holiday season as you go about your day, take time to reflect on what is important. We all love good food and good company. If this is a time when you miss your loved ones who are far away or are no longer with you, you are in our thoughts. We are grateful to have you as part of the SCF extended family.