This time of year, thoughts tend to turn toward gratitude as many of us celebrate the upcoming Thanksgiving season. The holidays have that unique capability—they bring into light all the blessings that we have and help us feel truly thankful for the family, friends, memories, and abundance we enjoy. And while gratitude might boost our spirits and make us feel warm and fuzzy on the inside, science is actually starting to show us that gratitude improves our health and wellbeing as well.
Physical health. In one 2012 study, researchers found that people who actively embrace gratitude complain of fewer aches and pains while also reporting feeling healthier than those who don’t.  Likewise, grateful people report higher levels of exercise and tend to take better care of their bodies.
Furthermore, a 1995 study in the American Journal of Cardiology found a link between gratitude and heart health.  When you have good heart health, you can better combat certain diseases, such as hypertension and congestive heart failure.
Another shocking find is the link between gratitude and diet. In one study, lead gratitude researcher, Robert A. Emmons, discovered that those who regularly keep a journal of things they’re thankful for tend have a reduced caloric intake by as much as 25%!  This can help you manage your weight and experience optimal physical health.
Psychological health. Robert A. Emmons has further discovered a direct correlation between gratefulness and increased happiness. Another study, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, found that those who daily create a list of things to be thankful for have a brighter outlook on life and greater sense of positivity.  Positivity can help boost your psychological stamina and help you battle some of life’s toughest storms you may face without crumbling.
Recent clinical trials have also revealed that people who are more grateful tend to get better sleep, suffer from fatigue less frequently, and experience depression at a lower rate.  Essentially, gratitude has the opposite effect of stress on your mental health. When people are grateful, they are more connected with themselves, those around them, and their environment, and are able to think more optimistically. When you suffer from constant stress, it can be very difficult to experience this level of contentedness.
In Mr. Emmons’ research, he also found that people who practice gratitude also have lower levels of cortisol, a significant stress hormone, which can greatly impact mental wellbeing. 
Intellectual health. Finally, gratitude can actually help your academic performance and mental stamina. One study found that grateful high school students have higher GPAs, as well as better social skills and increased life satisfaction, according to a 2010 study published in the Journal of Happiness Studies. 
Another study found that students with higher levels of gratitude also experienced a heightened sense of hope, and hope can be directly correlated with academic success and achievement. 
So now that you know how gratitude improves your health, here are some quick tips to get more grateful today:
 Morin, A. (2014). 7 scientifically proven benefits of gratitude that will motivate you to give thanks year-round. Accessed November 4, 2016. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/amymorin/2014/11/23/7-scientifically-proven-benefits-of-gratitude-that-will-motivate-you-to-give-thanks-year-round/#4567906f6800.
 The Huffington Post (2012). 10 reasons why gratitude is healthy. Accessed November 5, 2016. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/21/gratitude-healthy-benefits_n_2147182.html.
 Dunn, L. (2015). Be thankful: science says gratitude is good for your health. Access November 5, 2016. Retrieved from http://www.today.com/health/be-thankful-science-says-gratitude-good-your-health-t58256.
Young, S. (2014). Using gratitude journals to improve student performance. Accessed November 5, 2016. Retrieved from http://www.readinghorizons.com/blog/the-reading-horizons-gratitude-challenge-a-week-of-gratitude-for-your-classroom.
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