Expressing gratitude makes us healthier: Who wouldn’t be grateful for that?
As it turns out, expression of gratitude is a good thing for our minds and bodies. In a new article in the National Communication Association’s Review of Communication, authors Stephen M. Yoshimura and Kassandra Berzins review research on gratitude and conclude that, “Gratitude consistently associates with many positive social, psychological, and health states, such as an increased likelihood of helping others, optimism, exercise, and reduced reports of physical symptoms.”
Numerous studies show that expressing and experiencing gratitude increases life satisfaction, vitality, hope, and optimism. Moreover, it contributes to decreased levels of depression, anxiety, envy, and job-related stress and burnout. Perhaps most intriguing is that people who experience and express gratitude have reported fewer symptoms of physical illness, more exercise, and better quality of sleep. Who wouldn’t be grateful for that?
While the immediate effects of gratitude expression are clear, the authors argue that it also contributes to long-term success in relationships and personal well-being — “up to six months after a deliberate expression to one’s relationship’s partner.” Just as we periodically boost our immune systems through vaccines, we can boost our relationships and mental state by expressing gratitude to our partners on a regular basis. The authors leave us with a general health practice: Why not regularly communicate gratitude to enhance our social connectedness?