COVID-19: Choosing Gratitude for Improved Health
My teenage daughter has been keeping a gratitude journal for the past few years. Each night before going to bed she religiously records several things she is grateful for that day. This helps her look for the good in each day and strive to focus more on positive rather than negative aspects of her life.
The past few weeks has been easy to identify many negative aspects of life as each of us have faced nearly instant lifestyle changes from an unforgiving, uninvited guest in COVID-19.
Could choosing to focus on positive aspects of our lives minimize or decrease the impact of the negative factors? A practice of gratitude cannot alleviate the very real impact of the global pandemic on our individual lives whether it be financial, emotional or physical. However, research suggests it can positively impact our social, psychological and physical health.
Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D, a world leading scientific expert on gratitude and professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis has studied the effects of gratitude for over a decade. His team has studied more than one thousand people, from ages eight to 80, and found that people who practice gratitude consistently report a host of benefits. Including:
• Stronger immune systems
• Less bothered by aches and pains
• Lower blood pressure
• Exercise more and take better care of their health
• Sleep longer and feel more refreshed upon waking
• Higher levels of positive emotions
• More alert, alive, and awake
• More joy and pleasure
• More optimism and happiness
• More helpful, generous, and compassionate
• More forgiving
• More outgoing
• Feel less lonely and isolated
How does gratitude effect our immune system? Grateful people tend to be more optimistic, a characteristic that researchers say boosts the immune system. Lisa Aspinwall professor of psychology at the University of Utah says ”There are some very interesting studies linking optimism to better immune function.” According to Professor Emmons,
“Clinical trials indicate that the practice of gratitude can have dramatic and lasting effects in a persons life,….It can lower blood pressure, improve immune function and facilitate more efficient sleep.”
Professor Emmons provided excellent advice for our current day circumstances when he said:
“Gratitude…goes against our need to feel in control of our environment. Sometimes with gratitude you just have to accept life as it is and be grateful for what you have.”
This is a challenging time, if you are feeling lonely, isolated or discouraged consider connecting with a Myeloma Coach. Find personal support to help you begin to identify the good in each day. Or, become a Coach and find joy in serving and uplifting others.