Research carried out by the University of California San Diego’s School of Medicine found that people who were more grateful had healthier heart rhythms and less inflammation. Regularly showing your gratitude can also help lower blood pressure – high blood pressure is a risk factor for heart problems.
People who are thankful and optimistic about their lives have more efficient immune systems, according to another US study. The researchers found that law students who were more positive about their situations and regularly expressed gratitude had more disease-fighting cells in their blood.
Gratitude has the opposite effect on the body to stress, say some medical experts. One study showed levels of the hormone cortisol – which is produced by the body when you’re stressed – were 23 per cent lower in people who describe themselves as grateful, compared to those who said they had little to be thankful for.
Thankful people tend to sleep better, which means they are less fatigued and have more energy than those who lie awake at night tossing and turning. Researchers have found that people who spend 15 minutes jotting down what they are thankful for before going to bed fall asleep more quickly and stay asleep for longer.
• Make health a priority and take better care of themselves. They are more likely to exercise regularly, eat healthily and have health checks
• Tend to eat less unhealthy dietary fat
• Have better relationships. Not only are they more appreciative of their loved ones, but it’s thought gratitude plays a part in producing the hormone oxytocin, which helps with bonding
• Are more giving. Those who feel thankful for what they have received are more likely to want to give back, whether it’s to family, friends or their community
Some people are naturally thankful, but if you’re not that way inclined, don’t worry, it is a habit you can teach yourself.