3 reasons gratitude can help ease stress

There are many steps we can take to prevent anxiety from interfering in our lives. Such steps include physical exercise, getting plenty of sleep, good nutrition, and a strong social support system. But increasingly, research is telling us that gratitude is a strong way to reduce anxiety. With that said, here are three ways gratitude can protect us from feelings of anxiety.

Gratitude lets you better understand yourself in order to take it easy: When we get overly critical of ourselves, stress can ensue.  Self-compassion, self-understanding, and taking it easy are ways in which we hope to act.  With gratitude, this is possible. Researchers in an Italian study found that gratitude “is connected to a less critical, less punishing, and more compassionate relationship with the self.” 

Based on their findings, it seems the art of knowing oneself and taking it easy may very well be linked to our gratefulness.

Gratitude helps reduce unbeneficial self-talk: When facing a setback, stress trigger, frustration, or persistent worry, there is a tendency to engage in unbeneficial self-talk or repetitive negative thinking (RNT) linked to increasingly higher levels of anxiety. 

The good news is that gratitude has the potential to reduce such thinking, according to a 2019 German study. Researchers showed a significant decrease in RNT via an app-based gratitude intervention lasting six weeks.  Interestingly, in a 2020 study in Alzheimer’s and Dementia, RNT was linked to increased risk for developing Alzheimer’s Disease.  By protecting against RNT, gratitude may have the potential to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s Disease as well. 

Gratitude helps reduce anxiety in youth: In her doctoral thesis, Danielle Cripps describes the way that gratitude can help reduce anxiety in youth.  She writes, “A school-based gratitude diary intervention could be an effective way to promote school belonging and reduce anxiety in a youth population.”

Students in the intervention group were asked to write three things they were grateful for each day.  By encouraging gratitude at a young age, anxiety especially in teenage years may be lessened in this way.  Reviewing the ways youth can benefit can have a positive impact on our society at large.

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