The Benefits of Gratitude

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“It’s a funny thing about life, once you begin to take note of the things you are grateful for, you begin to lose sight of the things that you lack.” -Germany Kent .

As the year is coming to an end and the holidays are upon us it’s important to take some time to reflect on our decisions, behaviors, and future goals. While 2020 has been an extremely difficult year for all of us, we encourage you to take a step back and think of all the positives. Thanksgiving is just around the corner and what better time to share stories and feelings of gratitude and positivity.

Let’s understand the purpose of being grateful and why practicing gratitude is so important?

Gratitude is to be appreciative of the good and express thanks, it is known by some, as a state of mind. Grateful people often look back at the past and appreciate the good, all while reflecting on the little victories. Gratefulness can influence your outlook on life and is proven to be a very therapeutic way of living.

Expressing gratitude has several benefits for your mind and body. According to Dr. Robert Emmons, a professor of Psychology at UC Davis, the positive effects of practicing gratitude is both emotional and physical. Studies show that people who are more grateful have increased emotional well-being and are also known to have more impactful relationships. Grateful people feel more connected with others and tend to be less lonely and feel less isolated. Studies also show that people who express gratitude have less depression in mild to moderate cases. Similarly, according to Dr. Wendy Mendes, Professor of Emotion, expressing gratitude even affects sleep. People with higher levels of gratitude, sleep better, and experience lower resting blood pressure.

What about the effects of gratitude on the brain? Glenn Fox, a postdoctoral researcher at USC and head author of “Neural Correlates of Gratitude,” led a study on how our brain reacts to feelings of appreciation and gratitude. They conducted an experiment to scan the participant’s brains when they are exposed to emotions of gratitude. The research team found that a grateful brain showed high activity in two primary regions: the medial prefrontal cortex and the anterior cingulate cortex. These areas are responsible for emotional processing, moral judgment, connecting with others by understanding their mental state, and rewarding social interactions. With this information, it can be noted that gratitude shows to have a connecting and bonding effect with others resulting in feeling connected to one another.

The act of expressing gratitude encompasses self-reflection, selflessness, and generosity. This Thanksgiving, during these tumultuous times, we at FPCW recommend taking some time out to journal your thoughts and think about the positives. However, we are aware that for some, dealing with your emotions, feelings, and these uncertain times has been very difficult. We want to let you know that we are here and grateful for you. We want to take this time to thank all our patients for committing and sticking through with us this year. We hope the next year brings all of us joy, laughter, and stability.

“No duty is more urgent than giving thanks.” -James Allen

From Family Psychiatry Counseling & Wellness, We wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving!

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