Can gratitude help your health? Science says, yes!
For many people around the world, this time of the year reminds us to share our thanks with friends, family, and others around us. It may be obvious that gratitude can be emotionally beneficial to you and those around you, but did you know that according to science, being thankful can actually support your immune system?
The research behind connecting our health to positivity and gratitude continue to show positive results. And according to many of these studies, gratitude can help with stress, immune function, and help us live a fuller, longer life.
Here are a few promising research findings that point to the positive health benefits of thankful thinking.
- WebMD has reported on the findings from Robert Emmons, University of California Davis Psychology Professor and world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude who said that “Grateful people take better care of themselves and engage in more protective health behaviors like regular exercise, a healthy diet, regular physical examinations.
- Gratitude research is suggesting that thankfulness may be a valuable tool helping people cope with daily stressors. For example, researchers at the universities of Utah and Kentucky observed that stressed-out law students who characterized themselves as optimistic actually had more disease-fighting cells in their bodies. This is an interesting finding, as it is known that stress can negatively impact our immune function.
- In another study, Dr. Lisa Aspinwall, a psychology professor at the University of Utah, compared the immune systems of healthy, first-year law students under stress. The study found that, by midterm, students characterized as optimistic sustained higher numbers of blood cells that protect the immune system, compared with students characterized as less-optimistic.
- Research with older adults found that a positive attitude can improve your immune system and may help you live longer, according to a published University of Queensland.
- Another study shows that gratitude reduces tension, depression, anger, and stress, which directly correlated with physical health and a stronger immune system.
- Psychology Today cites several studies that show people who report being more grateful also report feeling fewer aches and pains and are more likely to go to the doctor and take care of themselves.
Research has us thinking about how to be mindful and actionable about how we give thanks, because after all, science is telling us it could be good for our health. Our quality of life is tied to the way we feel both mentally and physically, so spending the time to understand and express what we are grateful for can help us be well and stay well.
By the Wellmune Team