The holiday season is a time for giving thanks, but that’s easier said than done for many of us these days. If you’re having a hard time feeling gratitude, we’re here to help at Still Well by Dr. Stilwell. Helping you achieve your highest level of wellness and vitality is our mission and greatest passion in life. In the spirit of helping you boost your gratitude quotient, we decided to share a few of our favorite facts about gratitude.
Gratitude can be learned!
A whole lot is written about the health benefits of having an attitude of gratitude, but if gratitude doesn’t come naturally to you, you may end up feeling like you’re defective or less than — and this is definitely NOT the case! Yes, some people are hardwired to feel optimistic, but that’s only some people. Most people fall somewhere in the middle, and we have to practice gratitude the way you would practice an instrument. Think of gratitude like a muscle. The more you exercise it, the stronger it becomes. The more you practice gratitude, the more easily it will be to feel gratitude on a regular basis.
Simple ways to inject more gratitude into your day:
● Taking a mental break (even for just 30 seconds) to think of something you appreciate. It could be your coworker’s sense of humor or your dog Chester. It doesn’t matter what it is, the point is to think of something positive for a moment.
● Start a list of your “gratitude moments,” jotting down all the things big and small that you are thankful for. It doesn’t have to be a fancy gratitude journal, either (unless that brings you joy, of course!).
● Compliment others. Finding the positive in others and telling people you appreciate them helps boost their confidence for sure, but it also boosts your well-being by putting you in a more positive state of mind. (This is backed by clinical research!)
Gratitude is one of the world’s greatest happiness secrets.
Back up for a minute. You can better understand the power of gratitude by studying its opposite: stress! When you’re stressed and worried, stress hormones (cortisol) are released, spiking your heart rate and blood pressure and diverting your blood flow from your gut to your extremities. This is known as the “fight or flight” response. When stress becomes chronic and your stress response is prolonged, it can result in a cascade of inflammation throughout the body, which can have all kinds of harmful consequences including insomnia, depression, increased risk of heart disease and other illnesses. The physical effects of chronic stress are quite serious.
Now, think about what happens when you are feeling gratitude. You are content. You are calm. Your body is in a relaxed state. Your heart isn’t racing, and your sleep is probably better. Instead of being in the “flight or fight” response, your body is able to return to normal, doing what it does best: boosting your immune system, clearing out toxins and healing. Best of all, feeling gratitude doesn’t take much! Research shows that just thinking about something you appreciate can activate the calming part of your nervous system, the parasympathetic nervous system. Your parasympathetic response affords wonderful protective benefits for your body by decreasing cortisol levels and boosting oxytocin, the feel-good hormone.
Gratitude is good for your looks!
It doesn’t get talked about as much, but gratitude is a wonderful complexion booster! As we explained earlier, when you are in a state of gratitude and your parasympathetic nervous system is engaged, your body’s stress hormones are lowered. Lowering your body’s inflammatory response can have a wide range of positive effects on skin:
● Lower sebum levels can help improve acne and breakouts.
● Reduced inflammation in skin can diminish redness.
● Boosting happy hormones can boost blood flow to skin, resulting in a radiant, lit-from-within glow!
● Better sleep results in brighter skin tone, reduced lines and wrinkles and improved dark circles.
This holiday season, we hope you’ll remember to take time for yourself to replenish your energy and feel your best, no matter how busy it gets! We’re grateful for you, our amazing patients, and we can’t wait to help you achieve optimal wellness inside and out! To learn more about self-care at Still Well, please call us at 718-448-6373 today.