We hear a lot about stress, but did you know that practicing gratitude can combat stress?
A little background on stress will help explain gratitude’s role in combating it. When we experience physical, mental or chemical stress, a hormone called cortisol is released. With continual stress, a number of things happen in our bodies when that cortisol is released over a long period of time.
The effects of cortisol are a whole topic in itself, but understand that it does nasty stuff to us long term. It is like having the gas pedal on stuck on and we can’t turn it off. We just keep going and going. Our bodies are not designed for this and it has a harsh effect on us.
Combatting Stress with Gratitude
One of the ways to combat mental stress is through the practice of gratitude. You’ve heard about gratitude and know it’s talking about things we appreciate or are thankful for. But I’d like to talk about the actual physical benefits of practicing gratitude.
If we are stressed out constantly with that gas pedal stuck on, simply acknowledging things that we are thankful for stimulates another part of our body. Think of it as the brake pedal helping our bodies slow down and down regulate.
Even more fascinating and encouraging, is that studies show that people who practice daily gratitude have up to 23% lower levels of cortisol. This means that you can have a powerful impact on your stress level and physical wellbeing today, without changing your circumstances. Taking time at the end of the day to acknowledge and write down what you appreciate in your life is a great way to wind down.
So, get out a journal and start practicing gratitude today and you can actually impact your health!
Dr. Breanna Tivy