With the New Year approaching, many people are in full New Year’s resolution frenzy… often focused on weight loss. However, one great way to start the new year is to plan to count our blessings on a more regular basis, by programming in a little more time for practicing gratitude. Guess what? It will help weight loss too!
What does science say about the benefits of gratitude? Plenty. A growing body of scientific research shows gratitude can have a profound impact on your overall health. If you have been working at losing weight this past year, learning the power of gratitude can help you achieve your goals, even if that means indulging a little.
What Can Practicing Gratitude Do For You?
- More and healthier relationships. A 2014 study found that displaying appreciation makes you more likely to develop friendships, friendships based on respect and genuine companionship.
- Physical health. Being grateful makes you healthier. People who report high levels of gratitude also report fewer medical issues.
- Mental health. Your brain is the organ served best by gratitude, so think of gratitude as wholesome, healthy food. Fill your system with it and you’ll have less room for unhealthy emotions like anger and regret.
- Sleep. Research shows that grateful people report sleeping better. And good sleep supports reaching and staying at a healthy weight.
- Stress. Gratitude works as an antidote to stress. So finding things to be grateful about even in stressful situations can actually dial down your stress levels. Guess what? Reducing stress supports weight loss too.
Practicing Gratitude – Here Are Some Tips
Gratitude isn’t an innate gift. Instead, it can be learned. So if you find yourself feeling regret about missed opportunities, or anger at past relationships or problems with your partner, then looking for things to be grateful about can dramatically improve your frame of mind.
Look for the Good
Have you quit smoking or drinking? Or have you stopped eating junk food? Then celebrate these and congratulate yourself.
Tell Someone Close to You
Do you appreciate something about your significant other, something that you haven’t mentioned to him or her? Then tell that person now. Once you’ve done this, take it a step farther, and list five things you appreciate about that person. Tell them. Don’t celebrate in silence.
Give yourself a daily exercise in practicing gratitude when you get out of bed each morning. Tell yourself something you are grateful for. Perhaps you’ve lost five pounds over the summer. Give thanks for this. There is nothing wrong with thanking yourself for a job well done. If you accomplished something at work, give yourself a pat on the back.
Reach Out to Strangers
We encounter and interact with strangers every day. So look for reasons to be grateful for the strangers you meet. Perhaps that new barista in your favorite coffee shop who got your beverage promptly. Thank that person.
End Your Day with a Thank-You
When you go to bed, reflect on your day and look for something to be grateful for. But don’t gravitate to the obvious things, like being grateful your spouse made dinner that evening (though definitely be grateful for that!). Instead, look into the shadows. That stranger in the car at the corner who waved you on. That stranger who smiled at you for no reason, or the neighbor’s cat which wandered out to greet you when you got home from work. These are all things to celebrate.
Making Gratitude a Habit
Human beings are creatures of habit. It takes about three weeks to ingrain a new habit in our psyches. So, practice. In fact, from the day you read this article, set yourself the goal of incorporating these tips into your life for the next thirty days. That will put you in a great place for the start of a new year!
At the end of that time, check in with yourself and see how your mood, your stress levels, and health have changed. You may be pleasantly surprised by the power of practicing gratitude to improve your life.