Gratitude and Good Health

By Kelly Kellerman, LCSW

Social Work Manager

Advantage Health Centers

Thanksgiving is a great time of year to start the practice of gratitude. As noted by Dr. P. Murali Doraiswamy, an expert in brain and mind health: “If thankfulness were a drug, it would be the world’s best-selling product with a health maintenance indication for every major organ system.” Gratitude actually alters your brain in a number of beneficial ways, and helps:

  • Improve physical health by having a general pain-lowering effect, lowering inflammationand blood sugar, improving immune function, blood pressure and heart health and encouraging general self-care
  • Increase happiness and life satisfaction by lowering stress and emotional distress
  • Improve emotional resiliency, which also helps combat stress and anxiety
  • Improve mental health by triggering the release of antidepressant and mood-regulating chemicals such as serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine and oxytocin, while inhibiting the stress hormone cortisol
  • Improve sleep, which can have far-reaching benefits for physical and mental health

Here are a few easy ways to practice gratitude:

  • Start by keeping a daily list of events that you are grateful for each night. Some call it a gratitude journal. You can call it whatever you want. They don’t have to be major events – they might be as simple as a good meal, talking to a friend or hearing something funny. Remember positive things before you go to sleep makes for a more restful night and a positive start to the next day.
  • Keep your eyes open throughout the day for reasons to say “thanks.” Try to recognize the small acts of kindness people do every day that may be overlooked.
  • Gratitude is contagious. Watch your words. What you say is usually how you act, so be aware of complaining and replace whines with positive words. Start with you, be the change and watch as the world changes around you.

Information provided is not medical advice or intended to treat any medical or behavioral condition. Please contact Advantage Health Centers for an appointment to address any medical, dental or behavioral concern at 313-416-6262.