The Attitude of Gratitude: How your state of mind can affect your health

Disclosure :: this post is sponsored by Children’s Hospital.

The Attitude of Gratitude: How your state of mind can affect your health

The holiday lights are strung up with care and the turkey is in the oven. It’s the perfect season for giving thanks, but shouldn’t we always have a mindset of being grateful for what we have? Gratitude can be thought of as a complete human experience, made up of positive thoughts and pleasant emotions, which come together to support our overall well-being. When we experience gratitude, we have a deep sense of connection to the world around us, and the people in it. Expressing gratitude requires us to let go of the tension and negative thoughts – in this way we are allowing ourselves to be vulnerable as we open our hearts up to the possibility of others.

Several studies show that by consciously choosing and cultivating gratitude, one can improve both mental and physical health. Genuinely expressing thanks can help with our own self-esteem and depressed feelings. Individuals who regularly participate in gratitude practices may also experience positive effects on physical health by boosting immunity, lowering blood pressure, and increasing the hormone in one’s body that promotes bonding between human beings.

Here are a few ways you can express gratitude in your day to day activities:

  1. Well-being: How did you take care of your body today?

Did you know you take about eight million breaths a year? According to the American Heart Association, showing gratitude starts with heart health which means being active. So, take some extra breaths, speed up that heart rate, and appreciate the fact you can climb a set of stairs. Be thankful that you can close your arms and hold someone close that you love. Movement is key to a healthier and more grateful you!

  1. Yummy in my tummy gratitude

Savor each yummy meal you have set in front of you this holiday season.  Whether it’s a delicious turkey dinner or a piece of grandma’s homemade pumpkin pie. Nourish yourself and be thankful for each bite!

  1. Little humans and big humans that inspire you

Take a moment to appreciate each person in your life that inspires you to be the best version of yourself. Who makes you smile, makes you belly laugh until you cry, and makes you love with great intensity? Even the youngest member of your family can remind you of the importance of life. Take notice!

  1. Practice makes perfect

If you have children, remember that practicing gratitude teaches them how to be empathetic and reinforces pro social behaviors. For teens, taking a few moments for gratitude can support healthy peer relationships and can be an important opportunity to step away from screen time and connect with feelings in the here and now. Turn off the iPhones and iPads, and let everyone share what they are thankful for!

There are many ways to practice showing gratitude most of which are small simple acts such as sending a card to an unexpecting friend, or simply letting someone know how you feel about them. Just know that during this busy holiday season that it is ok to show yourself gratitude – you are here, now, and doing just fine.

Dr. Cody Roi, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

Dr. Cody Roi is a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist at Children’s Hospital New Orleans’ Behavioral Health Center. He also serves as Assistant Professor and Associate Training Director for the Child and Adolescent residency program at LSU Health New Orleans. He works with young children, adolescents, and their families in the acute crisis setting, and teaches a year-long psychotherapy seminar and specializes in play, psychodynamic, and family/systems therapy. Dr. Roi’s current research projects include studying at the effects of bullying, factors that contribute to the report of auditory and visual hallucinations in pediatric patients, trends in suicidal behaviors, and the use of discourse on social determinants of health as a tool for teaching in medicine. He is the recent recipient of the AACAPs Psychodynamic Faculty Training and Mentorship program.

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