“Whatever our individual troubles and challenges may be, it’s important to pause every now and then to appreciate all that we have, on every level. We need to literally ‘count our blessings,’ give thanks for them, allow ourselves to enjoy them, and relish the experience of prosperity we already have.” - Shakti Gawain
With the holidays coming up, it’s natural to think of all that there is to be grateful for in life. Yet sometimes, it feels like we only stop to acknowledge our blessings one day out of the year – on Thanksgiving – despite the fact there are reasons all around us to be thankful all year long.
We can benefit physically and mentally from pausing, even for a few minutes each day to reflect on our lives and everything that makes living wonderful and worthwhile. No matter our personal circumstances, if we just give it a try, we realize that there are plenty of things to be thankful for, whether it be our health, our friends and family, our jobs, or even just the fact that we’ve been given another day to live and appreciate the world with all of its myriad wonders. Thankfulness and mindful, meditative moments are like little doses of medicine that can actually prolong life and improve well-being, and science backs it up! When we take the time to express gratitude, our body releases natural endorphins, boosting dopamine and serotonin. It is exactly what antidepressants do, but the difference is it's 100% natural! It may take some practice, but it is possible to get into the habit of daily thankfulness and meditation, and both your body and mind (and skin!) will thank you.
Thankfulness Improves Physical Health
A 2012 study evaluating 1,000 Swiss adults found that cultivating a spirit of thankfulness resulted in fewer aches and pains and a greater overall feeling of health. This was found to be in part because grateful people were more likely to take care of themselves by exercising and getting regular check-ups, and they were also more likely to seek help for their health when necessary.
Thankfulness Improves Psychological Health
Grateful people have been noted to be less prone to depression and anxiety, while also experiencing fewer feelings of resentment, jealousy, anger and regret. One study evaluating degrees of religiosity found that spiritually grateful people were far less likely to face problems associated with depression, generalized anxiety disorder, stress, phobias and addictions. As a knock-on effect, improved psychological health can also improve physical health, as people who experience less stress in their lives are less likely to deal with pain and more likely to have a stronger immune system.
Thankfulness Helps You Sleep Better
A good night’s rest is essential to good health, while a lack of sleep is linked to increasing stress, weakening the immune system and upping the risk for certain diseases and illnesses. A 2009 study involving 401 participants, 40% of whom suffered from clinical sleep disorders, suggests that the most grateful participants had better overall sleep quality, were more likely to fall asleep faster and had less daytime fatigue after waking up. The reason for this was because thankful people were more likely to have positive thoughts before falling asleep, such as counting their blessings. Meanwhile, people who had trouble falling asleep and staying asleep were more likely to suffer from negative thoughts that kept them up. A good night’s rest has many beauty benefits as well, improving overall complexion by regenerating skin cells and reducing breakouts thanks to the fact that while we sleep, our stress levels drop. They don’t call it Beauty Sleep for nothing!
Meditation Reduces Risk of Heart Disease & Stroke
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the world, and finding ways to prevent it is of utmost importance. Meditation has been proven to actually reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. A 2012 study involving over 200 high-risk participants asked individuals to take a class promoting better diet and exercise habits or take a Transcendental Meditation class. Over the next five years, researchers discovered that among the participants who took the meditation class, there was a 48% reduction in overall risk of heart disease, stroke and death. The results were associated with “lower blood pressure and psychosocial stress factors.”
Meditation Relieves Stress & Strengthens Immunity
Stress, especially chronic stress, can weaken immunity, making us susceptible to all kinds of illnesses. Stress can also have a very negative effect on the skin, causing acne, eczema and psoriasis, or exacerbating these problems. A Harvard Medical School study found that practicing meditation and meditative activities like yoga actually impacts mitochondrial energy production, consumption and resiliency, namely improving them. This then improves immunity as well as reaction to stress. For skin, this has double benefits, as less stress will result in less breakouts and inflammation, while a stronger immune system will also allow your body to fight problems like acne from within.
It can be tempting to disregard the concepts of thankfulness and meditation as a bunch of nonsense, but science doesn’t lie. It’s clear that both thankfulness and meditation have research to back them up as legitimate approaches to staying healthy, active and at our best. And the best part is that you can practice thankfulness and meditation for free with just a little bit of work. Of course, if you’re prone to negative thoughts, it can be difficult to rewire your thinking process, but not impossible. Meanwhile, the benefits are certainly worth the undertaking.
So, what are you grateful for this holiday season?
At Luxe Botanics, we are immensely thankful on a daily basis for our fair-trade partnerships with producers who respect nature and the land they tend by utilizing sustainable farming methods. Sustainability is increasingly crucial in a world where our natural resources are finite and becoming moreso with each passing year.
Of course, we are also massively thankful for you, our tribe of mindful living warriors, who understand and appreciate the importance of sustainability, practice it in their own lives and work to do their part to make sure our planet is healthy for many generations to come.
The Luxe Botanics Team