Practicing Gratitude for Cortisol Balance
Gratitude has gotten a lot of attention in recent years for relieving stress, but is that all that gratitude does to benefit our lives? In fact, gratitude has been proven to have social, physical, and psychological benefits as well. Gratitude is not something we are simply born with, and to incorporate it into our lives we must practice it. So how can we practically incorporate gratitude in our day?

Tips for incorporating gratitude:

  • Keep a notebook by your bed and write down 5 things you are grateful for every morning and night. This has been scientifically proven to rewire your brain to focus on the positives throughout your day. You can create a note in your phone, or use a journal.
  • Create a “trigger” for positivity. Example of triggers would be to count 10 things you’re grateful for at every stoplight you reach.
  • You may prefer to write for a set amount of time. This will allow you to elaborate about why you are grateful for certain things, experiences, and people. (i.e. set timer for 10 minutes to write about what you were grateful for.)
  • Set an alarm to remind you to write in in your gratitude journal . You can write about anything you expect. The key to experiencing benefits of gratitude, is making it routine.
  • Try to write about something new each time. This will get challenging, but by searching for things you are grateful for, you begin to make lasting changes to your mindset.
  • As you progress, challenge yourself to focus on the good things about about something you aren’t particularly fond of (i.e. “sitting at a stop light today allowed me to mentally reflect”).

Research on Gratitude:

As we noted earlier, gratitude has been proven to improve social, physical and psychological aspects of our lives. How you ask? Research has proven that which expressing gratitude, “feel good” hormones such as oxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin are released in our minds. Studies have shown that focusing on positivity can lower cortisol in our bodies as well. This hormone balance happens as a result of increased blood flow in the hypothalamus. These hormones not only “feel good”, they have been known to increase our connectivity to other humans, allowing us to have better social relationships.

In numerous psychological studies, gratitude has been shown to relieve mental stress, and thus benefit our cardiovascular system, improve sleep, amp up our immune systems, and allow more energy for exercise. These benefits result from developments in certain regions of our brain, which can last for up to three months after one session of gratitude focus.

If you haven’t been convinced yet, gratitude is a practice you can incorporate into your life now, that will touch every aspect of your life in a positive way. So, don’t delay and start your practice of gratitude now, and you’ll be grateful you did!