November is a time to be deeply grateful. Mother Nature’s descent into hibernation marks the end of another annual cycle, anticipation of the holiday season begins to build among everyone around us, and the impending end of the calendar year begs us to start reflecting on what we experienced.
It’s one thing to simply know that you should be practicing gratitude for the sake of your own well-being, but it’s quite another thing actively be doing it and experiencing its benefits as a direct result. In today’s busy, modern world, it can be difficult for even the most dedicated yogis to regularly make time for a conscious gratitude practice.
Once you start becoming truly aware of the benefits on a deeper level, however, practicing gratitude will feel like much more of a natural habit. If you could use some motivation to start carving out a few minutes every morning or night for a gratitude practice, the following benefits (proven by psychology research) might be just what you need to begin taking it more seriously.
Gratitude Is Linked to Better Physical Health
It’s easy to assume that gratitude occurs entirely on a mental and emotional level, and although it certainly starts there, the reality is that the effects extend to the physical level as well. In a study on almost 1,000 Swiss adults ranging in age from teenagers to people in their 80s, researchers found that gratitude helped improve psychological health, which in turn improved physical health. This is because psychologically healthy people were found to engage in healthier habits and activities.
Gratitude Leads to Greater Life Satisfaction
It shouldn’t come as a shock that people who tend to be more materialistic are more likely to be depressed and unsatisfied in their lives. In a psychology study on materialists, researchers found that despite materialists’ tendency to achieve more material goals, they are less satisfied than those who practice gratitude. The researchers suspect that decreased satisfaction from achieving material goals without gratitude has a lot to do with how we adapt to what we achieve or possess—driving us to constantly want more in order to feel happier.
Gratitude Helps You Feel Better About Yourself
Low self-esteem can affect every area of your life, but practicing gratitude is one way to help boost your self-esteem without seemingly phoney affirmations or overly exaggerated positive self-talk. A sports study found that when athletes focused on gratitude, their self-esteem improved. With improved self-esteem comes decreased comparison against others and increased confidence in one’s ability to perform well.
Gratitude Can Help Improve Your Sleep
If you’re ever feeling restless at night due to anxious, uncontrollable thoughts, you may want to consider writing in a gratitude journal before bed. One particular study found that students who spent just 15 minutes journaling about what they were grateful for experienced improvements in sleep quality and length. A gratitude journal can essentially act as a tool to help offset worry and calm the mind for a good night’s rest.
Gratitude Can Help Strengthen Relationships
No relationship is perfect, but focusing on the good in the other person and being grateful for who they are/what you have together can pave the way toward increased relationship openness and problem solving. A study found that expressing gratitude toward one’s partner helped enhance positive perception of them, leading to improved comfort in communicating relationship concerns. In other words, when times get tough, gratitude can help the both of you get through it.