Thank You: An Attitude of Gratitude!
It's National Gratitude Month!
Firstly, Thank you! Thank you for taking the time to read my musings and information – It really does mean a lot to me. I’m hugely passionate about helping other people and your feedback really does mean the world. I hope you find something of note below and as always, take what works for you and leave the rest!
Having witnessed for myself the benefits that a regular gratitude practice can have, I thought I’d share some information on gratitude and how it can help improve our overall wellbeing!
So what is gratitude?
Gratitude as defined by the Oxford Learners Dictionaries is:
“the feeling of being grateful and wanting to express your thanks.”
According to the world leading expert on gratitude, Dr Robert Emmons, there are two components to gratitude. Firstly, an affirmation of goodness; for example being able to identify the good things in our life and secondly, being able to figure out where that goodness has come from to be able to acknowledge the source / person, for the thing they have done for us.
But what has gratitude got to do with skin health and wellbeing?
Well! Our skin, brain and gut are all linked via our nervous system, which is why stress can have such a profound affect on our bodies, with symptoms coming out in our skin.
Our gut contains 500 million of the 100 billion neurons (the cells found in the brain and central nervous system) which tell our bodies how to behave. These 500 million neurons are connected to our brain through our nerves in our nervous system. The most pertinent in this context being the vagus nerve.
The vagus nerve is one of the biggest nerves connecting the gut and brain, sending signals both from the brain to the gut and vice vesra. Our gut and brain are also connected through neurotransmitters, many of these neurotransmitters are produced by the gut cells and the trillions of microbes that live there. Interestingly, 95% of seretonin is produced in the intestines, and as we know, serotonin stabilises mood, feelings of well-being and increases happiness. Gut microbes also produce neurotransmitters, which control feelings of fear and anxiety and have the ability to increase our stress levels.
The vagus nerve functions contribute to the autonomic nervous system, which is made up of two halves, the sympathetic (fight or flight) and the parasympathetic (rest and digest). As a whole, the autonomic nervous system controls functions such as:
- The heart
- Body temperature
…and connects to your heart, liver, sweat glands, skin, and even the interior muscles of the eye.
Skin conditions like acne, eczema or rosacea to name a few, can be the external visible conditions of stress related illnesses, due hormones such as cortisol compromising the health and integrity of our skin.
Stress hormones divert energy away from non-emergency functions like digestion, reproduction, and the immune system, leading to an imbalance of hormones in our bodies. This disrupts the production of seretonin, which can have a negative effect on our overall feelings of wellbeing and self-esteem.
But, what has any of this got to do with gratitude?
The science behind a gratitude journal shows that by expressing gratitude not only to others but also to ourselves, induces positive emotions, primarily happiness. By producing feelings of pleasure and contentment, gratitude positively impacts on our overall health and well-being.
Positive psychology and mental health researchers have over recent decades, have established an overwhelming connection between gratitude and good health. For example, keeping a gratitude journal has shown to reduce stress, improve the quality of sleep, and builds emotional awareness as well as generating more vitality, energy, and enthusiasm.
Dr Emmons research and that of his colleagues worldwide, have found that grateful people have more successes and they don’t just feel good, they do more good in their lives too! Research has shown that grateful people become more helpful, generous and charitable as they come from a place rooted in abundance, rather than deprivation (is your glass half full or, half empty?)
"A grateful person habitually looks at life from a grateful focus or through gratitude glasses!"
Dr Robert Emmons
Cultivating an attitude of gratitude...
Not another thing to add to the To Do list!
Dr Emmons points out that to really get the most from practicing gratitude we need to make it as simple as possible, so as not to see it as another thing to do in our already busy lives!
5 simple ways to practice gratitude:
1: Simply not taking things for granted and looking at life as a whole and as a gift.
2: Reframe adverse experiences to see the opportunities to be thankful for the lessons the experience taught.
3: Being kind to others! Random acts of kindness increase feel good hormones in both the person doing the act and the person receiving. Receiving gratitude and appreciation also makes us feel more grateful and increases feelings of contentment.
4: Say thank you at every opportunity, or write a thank you note!
5: Start a gratitude journal – Keeping a gratitude journal has shown to reduce stress, improve the quality of sleep, and builds emotional awareness as well as generating more vitality, energy, and enthusiasm. All of which reduce our stress hormones and keep are autonomic nervous system in check.
Your FREE Gratitude Journal
For anybody that might not have a journal, or perhaps doesn’t know where to start, I’ve created a Daily Gratitude downloadable and editable pdf that you can complete:
- on your phone,
- on your computer or, of course,
- print out (you could even laminate it to re-use it daily!)
Other Useful Resources:
Thank You by Liggy Webb
I can personally recommend this one! I’ve owned a copy for many years and it’s a book a go back to time and time again!
Having worked for the UN in Afgahistan, Liggy explores how happiness is not something outside of ourselves but comes from within, whilst giving practical suggestions on how to cultivate a grateful attitude.
By purchasing the books via the Amazon affiliated links above, you will be supporting my business to grow, by way of commission that I earn from each sale and I can carry on creating as much free content as possible for you to enjoy!
Thank you again for your time in reading this blog post on Gratitude, I am truly grateful for your time, your interest and your support.