When life is stressful and unpredictable, especially during challenging times like we are facing now, what is there to be grateful for? Research shows that it’s more important than ever to feel grateful when times are tough. Not only does gratitude improve relationships and physical and psychological health, it enhances empathy, reduces aggression, improves sleep, increases self-esteem, and helps us develop resiliency. Here are 5 benefits of expressing gratitude:
1. People often develop new relationships through acts of gratitude. “Thanking a store clerk for assistance, a co-worker for their insight, an officer for directions, or a family member for dinner or a ride to practice strengthens the relationships,” explained Dr. Beth Plachetka with Safe Harbor Counseling in Sugar Grove. “People who express gratitude live longer and have fewer aches and pains. They’re healthier and tend to eat right, exercise, and keep routine doctor visits.”
2. Grateful people experience higher levels of wellbeing and happiness. They report less stress and jealousy, and fewer symptoms of depression.
3. Feeling grateful makes it more difficult for people to retaliate when feeling insulted or wronged. “They’re less likely to use revenge as a method of communicating that they’ve been hurt,” added Plachetka. “Grateful people are more empathetic, and use kindness and clear communication even when others have behaved negatively toward them.”
4. Being intentionally grateful leads to sweet dreams. Keeping a gratitude journal before going to bed can improve your quality and length of sleep.
5. Appreciating your own strengths enhances self-esteem by avoiding negative comparisons with others. “Knowing and liking ourselves allows us to accept challenges and perform at our best,” said Plachetka.
Trauma in life is unavoidable. According to Plachetka, things often take a turn for the worse when we are least prepared. Gratitude in all things, including adversity, allows us to think creatively, become “unstuck” more quickly, and grow in wisdom. For a happier life, practice gratitude at all times. For more information, please contact:
Beth Plachetka, LCSW, EdD
Safe Harbor Counseling and Dr. Beth Speaks
76 S. Main Street, Suite A
Sugar Grove, IL 60554