RVNA Today: Gratitude can lead to better health

It’s the season of Thanksgiving, and research has shown that people who express feelings of thankfulness and gratitude experience many emotional and physical benefits, and are happier overall. Studies have indicated that grateful people are more likely to take better care of themselves, engage in healthier behaviors, get regular exercise, eat healthier, have improved mental alertness, cope better with stress and challenges, have stronger immune systems and more. So, expressing gratitude may be one of the simplest things we can do to feel better.

Gratitude is an acknowledgement of all the good things we have in life and that the source of this goodness lies at least partially outside of ourselves. Not everyone expresses gratitude naturally. It is a practice or discipline and can be developed.

It certainly should not be limited to the season of Thanksgiving. In fact, practicing gratitude on a regular basis can foster greater happiness, improve health and build strong relationships. If expressing gratitude doesn’t come naturally, researchers suggest ways to develop this skill, including keeping a gratitude journal, writing personal notes of thanks to others, mentally noting the people and blessings which enrich our days, practicing prayer and meditation.

Expressing feelings of gratitude throughout the year can help us to better face challenges, reduce the stress of wanting more or being more and improve our overall health and wellbeing.

As we celebrate Thanksgiving this week, encourage your family, including young children, and friends to share their feelings of gratitude. Recognize all the things for which you are grateful and be mindful about continuing to do that in the year ahead. Happy Thanksgiving to all!

RVNA Today is supplied by the Ridgefield Visiting Nurse Association, which serves Wilton.