5 Mind-Body Benefits of Gratitude

Be an appreciator and health comes easy.

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Ready to get your gratitude on? Tap into the wisdom of this list to reap the physical and emotional benefits of having a grateful mindset.

1. You'll Snooze Better

Cultivating an "attitude of gratitude" has been linked to better sleep. In one study done by Robert Emmons, PhD, a psychology professor at the University of California Davis, people with neuromuscular disorders were asked to list what they were thankful for each night, and after three weeks they reported longer and more refreshing z's. The more grateful you are, the less likely you may be to focus on negative thoughts that can disrupt sleep.

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2. You Might Change Your Mind-Set

In a study by Indiana University, researchers asked people who were in counseling for anxiety and depression to write letters expressing thanks to someone. Weeks and even months later, tests found that they had more gratitude-related brain activity than those who hadn't practiced flexing their "thankful muscles."

3. You Get a Health Boost

The truly thankful see life as a gift and may take better care of themselves, says Emmons. Grateful people tend to feel healthier and have fewer aches and pains than glass-half-empty types. Gratitude has even been found to help out in reducing blood pressure, cholesterol, and inflammation in people with heart problems.

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4. You'll Avoid Impulsive Moves

When researchers asked people to recall an event that made them feel grateful and write about it for five minutes, they showed signs of more impulse control, especially around financial decisions. If you're wrestling with money woes, stop and think of something or someone you appreciate.

5. You'll Be More Resilient

Grateful people bounce back faster following stressful events. When we think about what we have to be grateful for, brain chemicals that help lower stress hormones are released. Adds Emmons: If you can find blessings in the midst of misfortune, you're less likely to be pulled under by anxiety.

Dr. Oz Says... If doctors could dole out an Rx for happiness, gratitude would be at the top of the prescription list. Evidence shows that people who make a choice to be grateful (even when it's hard to do) are more content. Surround yourself with friends who make it easy to see the good in life.

This story originally appeared in the November 2016 issue of Dr. Oz The Good Life.

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