Thrive In Five: Gratitude as part of a preventative health strategy

Gratitude as part of a preventative health strategy - woman smiling and flicking hair around happily listening to music on headphones

This week’s Thrive in Five is all about gratitude.

We’ve talked about gratitude a lot but you may be surprised to hear it can be used as part of a preventative health strategy.

Over the last few weeks, we’ve been running our preventative health series. We’ve chosen, what we think, are the really impactful things that you can do. Week 1 we talked about testing to inform your preventative health strategy with data, not guesswork. This has a financial investment, albeit not necessarily a huge price tag. We have no affiliation with the test we recommended in that post, they’re services we use personally here at BSP HQ for our own health and wellbeing.

The following three weeks, we’re focusing on things that don’t cost anything at all. Our health coach Liz shared why coldwater immersion and also yoga, stretching and mobility exercises can be used as part of a preventative health strategy. Today we’re talking about gratitude.

Gratitude and it’s effects on the body

Robert Emmons is a researcher who’s done a lot of work around gratitude, his research plus others have given us these insights into gratitude and what it does for our wellbeing. Gratitude changes our hormones. Particularly, it boosts oxytocin, which makes us feel bonded and connected:

  • to ourselves
  • to other people
  • to our environment
  • to society

And that feels amazing, oxytocin is a wonderful thing. Parents have it when they hold their newborn babies, mothers have it when they breastfeed (most of the time). I get it when I stare deep into my rescue dog’s big brown eyes, and I can see her blissing out with the oxytocin as well.

Oxytocin also makes us more optimistic – that’s what the studies have found, and it boosts happiness. It’s impossible to feel grateful and anxious at the same time. Or grateful and angry, grateful and stressed, grateful and sad. Gratitude is an incredibly powerful way to change you emotional soundtrack.

I think this is such an easy thing in some ways to do. You can get oxytocin:

  • through laughter
  • through touch (like massage)
  • through music, listening to and making music
  • we get it from being with other people
  • we get it from sharing how we feel

It’s an integral part of being human.

Gratitude is democratically available to everybody

Another key aspect to gratitude as a part of a preventative health strategy is, that it is something that is democratically available as well – anybody can practice gratitude. Whether it’s spontaneous, such as looking out the window, thinking “wow, a rainbow!” or “what a beautiful view”. Or whether it’s deliberate. We can practice gratitude deliberately, as I do every morning. I’ll sit and read a short paragraph from my nature book and then I’ll reflect on what I’m grateful for. So in that way, I’m being proactive and purposeful about my gratitude and other times it happens spontaneously.

Start a proactive and purposeful gratitude practice

So give that a try, maybe set a 10-day resolution to every morning, think about what it is you’re grateful for, or just open up your awareness as you’re going about your daily life and think, “wow, that’s incredibly beautiful!”. Just appreciate and be grateful for the fact that you got to see and witness that thing or that particular moment.

So, that’s everything from me, keep an eye out for us next week and all the very best for now, stay healthy.

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