Saturday, November 5, 2011

A Thank You A Day: Gratitude Enhances Health

I read this article in the Minser Chiropractic Clinic Newsletter. Since this is the time of year that we remember what we have to be thankful for, I thought I would pass along their information.

The health benefits of gratitude are an amazing example of just how sturdy the bridge is between the mind, body, and emotions. Research shows that heart-centered feelings associated with gratitude, appreciation, and caring enhance health. When you find one thing, however small to be thankful for, and you hold that feeling for as little as 15 to 20 seconds, many subtle and beneficial physiological changes take place in your body. For instance:

*Levels of the stress hormones cortisol and norepinephrin decrease, creating a cascade of beneficial metabolic changes, such as an enhanced immune system

*Coronary arteries relax, increasing blood supply to your heart

*Heart rhythm becomes more harmonious, which positively affects other bodily organs, and lifts your mood

*Breathing becomes deeper, increasing the oxygen level of your tissues

Other studies found that gratitude makes people healthier, smarter, and more energetic. People who practiced gratitude daily, such as by writing in a gratitude journal, reported higher levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, attentiveness, and energy than those who did not. If all of this happens when you focus for just 15 to 20 seconds on something that brings you pleasure, joy, or a feeling of gratitude, imagine what would happen to your health if you were able to cultivate thoughts of appreciation on a consistent and regular basis.

Here's a good way to start: Get a piece of paper and list your blessings. List the tremendous wealth you have in the 7 different areas of your life: Family, Career, Spiritual, Financial, Physical, Social, and Mental. How many people miss things or appreciate them more when they are threatened? Try opening your eyes NOW and seeing how you are blessed. The more you give thanks for what you have, the more you'll have to give thanks for. Focus on and see what's good around you!

Thinking with your heart takes practice, but if you faithfully learn to start thinking with your heart and pay attention to areas of your life that bring you joy and fulfillment, over time you will evoke biochemical changes in your body that will recharge your batteries. Not only does it enhance your energy levels and reduce stress, but recognizing and appreciating life's many blessings is one of the most powerful ways I know to enahnce the immune system, balance your hormones, and promote heart health. This exercise can literally change your life.

I kept a gratitude journal for many year. I'm not sure why I stopped writing in it. I'm going to find it and start listing my blessings again. Do you have a gratitude journal?
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