How Gratitude Can Improve Your Health

As we approach the holiday season it’s easy to get caught up in the rush and crunch of creating the perfect holiday experience (parties, planning, purchasing) how do you pause and sincerely experience appreciation for the big and little things in life that often get taken for granted? Did you know that practicing gratitude can actually be good for your health and career?

Spirituality and gratitude are associated with well-being. Research shows a daily gratitude practice can reduce heart attack risk, strengthen the immune system, improve sleep quality, and boost productivity at work.

Here are five simple steps you can spend five minutes a day towards building a more grateful you.

Keep a Journal

“Aim to devote just five minutes of your day to thinking about what you’re grateful for, and if you miss a day—not a big deal, you can pick it up again tomorrow.” says Lorraine Miller, a gratitude coach and author of the award-winning journal From Gratitude to Bliss: A Journey in Health and Happiness. Created as a tool to help reprogram thought patterns and bring greater positivity and wellbeing to the user. Practicing gratitude for as little as five minutes a day over 21 days or more can have profound effects on a person’s outlook on life and ability to reduce stress and experience joy. Grab a pen and fill up a few lines in a notebook to create a healthy daily gratitude habit.

Make it a Dinner Conversation

Pass on seconds and make room for gratitude at the dinner table. Instead of going around the table and each person say what they are thankful for only at Thanksgiving— try doing it every evening.

Pick up the Pace

Finding it hard to fit in your gratitude practice? Include it into your fitness routine. Spend the first five minutes of your walk or time on a cardio machine on what you are grateful for that day. Hit the trails and pick up the pace and at each mile marker name one thing that you are thankful for.

Change your Self-Talk

Instead of noticing all of your “flaws” when you look in the mirror, try taking a moment to be grateful for the body that you have and thank it for the incredible things it allows you to do each day. For example, strong legs that allows you to run outside with your children or dance with a loved one. Shift your mindset and you may notice that it may become easier to reach your goals.

Pay it Forward

Whether you pull out a pen and paper or draft an email, taking five minutes to thank someone can have a powerful impact on you and the recipient. “Gratitude does wonders for improving your relationships at home and at work,” says Miller. Try this with a coworker who might be getting on your nerves: “Seek out something authentic to thank them for—a job well done, for instance, and send them a note. You’ll notice your gratitude motivates others to be grateful, and negative feelings will begin to lift.”

What are you grateful for today? Tell us in the comments below!