Today’s Solutions: November 30, 2021

When thinking of strategies to integrate self-care into our hectic lives, our minds tend to gravitate towards mindfulness exercises such as yoga and meditation, or activities that relax our bodies such as soaking in a hot bath. However, another effective way to enhance your well-being is by practicing gratitude.

Practicing gratitude gives people the opportunity to identify and reflect on the things they have in their lives, tangible or intangible, that they are thankful for. And what better time to look at these benefits than as we approach Thanksgiving?

How does gratitude change the brain?

There are many benefits of maintaining a grateful attitude. According to a 2003 study conducted by Dr. Robert A. Emmons of the University of California, Davis, and Dr. Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami, individuals who expressed gratitude regularly reported having a better disposition in life and higher levels of positive emotions. They also tended to express fewer unpleasant emotions such as jealousy.

These changes are possible because, according to the Mindfulness Awareness Research Center of UCLA, expressing and receiving gratitude causes the brain to release the feel-good chemicals dopamine (which is linked to happiness) and serotonin (which helps regulate mood overall).

Psychiatric counselor Madhuleena Roy Chowdhury explains that thankfulness is also linked to an increase in the neural modulation of the prefrontal cortex, which is the part of the brain responsible for regulating negative emotions. This means that practicing gratitude boosts our happiness, regulates our mood, and reduces negative emotions such as fear, anxiety, or shame, all at the same time.

How does gratitude enhance well-being?

Gratitude doesn’t only impact the brain, but it is also linked with several other physical benefits, such as an improved sleep cycle and pain alleviation.

Expressing thanks is also linked to a healthier heart, and according to the American Psychological Association, may help reduce cardiac risk and diseases.

Practicing gratitude on a daily basis can also help those who struggle with low self-esteem and feelings of inadequacy because grateful people tend to spend more of their focus appreciating others and themselves for whatever they can accomplish, and don’t dwell on feelings of resentment for what others have.

How to practice gratitude
Regularly give thanks

Just like any practice, establishing the habit of expressing gratitude on a regular basis will take some time and effort. Make sure to set aside time each day or week to reflect on what you are thankful for. You can do this in a variety of ways, such as repeating a general mantra to yourself, or by looking at yourself in the mirror and identifying specific things that you are grateful for out loud.

Keep a gratitude journal

Emmon’s and McCullough’s 2003 study discovered that those who wrote down what they were grateful for regularly were more likely to demonstrate greater optimism about their lives after only two months. Those who kept a gratitude journal were also 25 percent happier than those who only thought about the things they were grateful for.

Express yourself

It may make you feel nervous or self-conscious to let someone know that you are grateful for them, however, don’t let that hold you back from thanking someone for something they have done. This can be a transformative practice that won’t only make you feel good, but will also uplift those around you.

Meditate

If meditating is already something you do, then consider weaving gratitude into your practice by focusing on a different aspect of your life that you are grateful for every time you meditate.

Try a gratitude exercise

If there is another gratitude exercise that resonates more with you than the ones mentioned above, then don’t be afraid to give it a try. Promoting gratitude in your life can be as simple as saying a prayer each day when you wake up or before going to bed, or it can take the form of taking a daily walk to connect with nature as you spend time reflecting on everything you are grateful for.

Solutions News Source Print this article
More of Today's Solutions

Popcorn may be the next sustainable building material

Popcorn is more than just a tasty snack to munch on while at the movies—it may soon be widely used as a natural and eco-friendly alternative to man made home insulation. Scientists at Göttingen University ... Read More

Want to get students engaged? Consider career-based classes

Students who are engaged in the classroom are more likely to participate and retain more information, but what exactly keeps kids engaged? Researchers from Ohio State University surveyed 20,000 high school students across the US ... Read More

This 3D-printed eye is an eye-conic development for digital prosthetics

According to Moorfields Eye Hospital in London, Steve Verze, a 47-year-old engineer from Hackney, has been the fortunate recipient of the world’s first 3D printed eyeball. He first tried the eye on for size earlier ... Read More

Senegal’s only circus troupe helps homeless children get off the streets

Senegal has exactly one circus troupe: Sencirk—and it was founded by a former child beggar named Modou Touré. Before taking his place as ringmaster of his own circus, Touré, at the age of seven, was ... Read More

New breakthroughs in nutrient-sensing cells

Did you know immune cells can sense nutrients? A new study from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital has identified the biological mechanism behind the phenomenon. The type of immune cells with these special abilities are ... Read More

How to stay warm this winter during outdoor social gatherings

Temperatures are dipping and snowflakes are falling, but that doesn’t mean we have to say goodbye to our outdoor social gatherings. Plus, it might not always be safe to gather indoors, and everyone will have ... Read More