We know that having an attitude of gratitude creates a better environment and encourages others to continue practising kindness. Gratitude is also good for our own self-care and wellbeing.
How does gratitude benefit us?
I would like to highlight 3 key areas:
- Healthier living
- Meaningful connections with others
Firstly, gratitude encourages healthier living. People who practise gratitude tend to get more exercise, eat better and sleep better. We know that gratitude reduces stress and anxiety. When we are stressed we tend to go for more comfort food, so when the stress is absent, we will eat better. If we process and interpret life through an appreciative lens, we will be using and cultivating more positive emotions which also has a positive effect on our internal systems including the immune and endocrine systems.
In addition, research shows us that when we think about what we appreciate, the parasympathetic or calming part of the nervous system is triggered and that can have protective benefits on the body, including decreasing cortisol levels and perhaps increasing oxytocin, the bonding hormone involved in relationships that make us feel so good.
Gratitude makes us more empathetic and humble. Regular gratitude practices also make us kinder; the domino effect of gratitude. If someone is kind to us, we not only want to reap that kindness with gratitude, we are also spurred on to be kinder ourselves. If we are seeking out moments to be grateful for, we will be looking for the positives in those around us and will encourage others to be even kinder and it will make us realise that we are fortunate to be surrounded by such kindness.
Practising gratitude builds meaningful connections with others and makes us feel part of something bigger. We feel that there is a solid support network where we feel confident enough to show our vulnerability and grow in self-confidence. Expressing gratitude not only helps us to address the needs of others but it also makes us feel safe in the knowledge that if we need help, we will get it.
Taking a few minutes, maybe at the end of the day to reflect on the positives of that particular day and all the things to be grateful for will really have a positive on our mental health. It will make us want to take better care of ourselves, benefit from being kinder and more empathetic and it will galvanise our social support networks.
TAP is a great way to bring all these positive factors together, reading about other people's moments of gratitude and sending our own messages to those deserving individuals and organisations who we are truly grateful for!