Why Gratitude Actually Works
You might hear the word gratitude thrown around a lot. We’re told to be grateful regularly, but you never really hear why we should feel that way. It can be easy to discount gratitude as ‘just another wellness cliche’. Plus when you’re in a tough spot in life, trying to look on the bright side can feel near impossible.
But you can’t underestimate the beautiful effect being grateful can have on your physical and mental health. It’s a cleanser for the soul, but what is the science behind it? Let’s look at the research behind why gratitude practices can truly work wonders for your mind and body.
The Science of Gratitude
Plenty of researchers have looked into what gratitude can actually do for us. The mountain of evidence is quite impressive!
One study found that students who were higher in gratitude were less stressed and depressed, and had higher perceived social support by the end of term. While another showed that grateful individuals experience more positive emotions and have greater satisfaction with life.
It isn’t something to keep bottled up, either. Expressing your gratitude to others can improve your mental health and keep negativity at bay. In one particular piece of research, participants who wrote about what they were grateful for appeared far more optimistic about their lives after ten weeks. They also exercised more and had fewer doctor visits than those who focused on sources of aggravation or neutral events.
Furthermore, gratitude can also lead to greater sleep quality and duration, as well as less sleep latency and daytime dysfunction. And sharing those feelings with your partner can help you feel more positive towards the relationship and more comfortable expressing any concerns.
Why Does Gratitude Work?
Practicing gratitude can fundamentally change the neural structure of our brains, altering the way we see and perceive the world. Gratitude - like so many other behaviours - is a habit. And consistently practicing it helps train your brain to look out for everything that’s going well in your life. Over time, we can strengthen these neural pathways, with positivity and optimism becoming our go-to mindsets.
It also has an impact on our biology at the neurochemical level. When we express gratitude or receive it from others, our brains release dopamine and serotonin, two feel-good hormones. These enhance our mood immediately and will have so many brilliant knock-on effects on your wider health and wellbeing.
It’s amazing what can happen when you practice gratitude. Gradually, you begin to observe the good things in your life rather than habitually leaning on the negative.
Building Your Own Gratitude Routine
Erno Laszlo and I are passionate about helping you reduce your stress, be grateful for your wonderful life, and enjoy more radiant skin as a result!
So, how can we all fit some gratitude practice into our hectic lives?
My first tip is to link gratitude with another habit. We’re so much more likely to keep up with our practice if it’s connected to a staple part of our existing routine. Why not try linking your gratitude practice with your skincare?
Keep a note on your mirror that says “what am I grateful for today?” Whenever you’re massaging in your Hydra-Therapy Gel Cream or Firmarine Night Cream before bed, challenge yourself to think of 3-5 things that made your day.
Another tip is to get others involved. Before bed, ask your partner what they’re grateful for, and have them return the question to you. Make this a daily habit between the two of you, encouraging you to always finish your days on a positive note.
With Thanksgiving right around the corner, now is the perfect time to start thinking more about what you’re grateful for. It not only feels good, science has officially proven all the multiple benefits of this simple practice. Whether you’re thankful for your family, friends, career, home, or anything else, I’d love to hear how you include gratitude in your routine!
Founder of @happynotperfect and Not Perfect Podcast with Poppy Jamie