The Healing Benefits of Gratitude

The Healing Benefits of Gratitude
As we move through the beauty of November and head toward the winter holiday season, it’s a good time to develop or refresh a gratitude practice (as a certain turkey-themed holiday reminds us to do). This simple practice is said to not only make life more fun and enjoyable, it also offers overall health benefits. A gratitude practice will help bolster you for the holidays, the cold winter months, and the year ahead.
Gratitude enhances appreciation of the simple things encountered in daily life that we can overlook or take for granted. It helps us get outside of our heads and connect to the world around us by acknowledging things and people that make us happy. A gratitude practice reminds us to acknowledge the positives in a situation, even in challenging circumstances. 
Health benefits 
Studies show there are many health benefits, physical and psychological, to practicing gratitude. The simple exercise of remembering to be grateful during life’s daily activities is said to help decrease inflammation, which can reduce physical aches and pains. Practicing gratitude encourages mindfulness. It forces you to slow down to acknowledge something that might be right in front of you that enriches your life. Similar to a meditation practice, a habit of mindful gratitude can help calm the nervous system and reduce stress. 
Grateful for the holidays?
While the holiday season may invoke a sense of nostalgia, celebration, and togetherness, it may also bring up stress, isolation, sadness, or a messy combination of emotions. Practicing gratitude can help mitigate the more difficult feelings that may accompany the holidays, and can help with stress management now and throughout the year. This practice might prove useful through the dark, long months of winter.

It’s a practice
As simple as it may seem, remembering to practice gratitude is, indeed, a practice — something we need to work on regularly to keep fresh, develop as a habit, and benefit from. Like most habits, it’s best to integrate it into daily life with regularity, even for short amounts of time. Comparable to the development of skills in your Pilates practice, consistent commitment is key to making progress – even during challenging times.

It might help to use a cue, like journaling first thing in the morning or right before bed, or just before you walk out the door at the start of your day, as a reminder to pause and reflect on one or more things you are grateful for in life. Something as simple as a comfortable pair of shoes, a sunny day, or a lovely morning cup of tea are reason enough to pause and give thanks. Ideally, pause long enough for a moment of mindfulness and sense how the thing you are grateful for makes you feel and how it enriches your life. For example, a comfortable pair of shoes helps you move through your day with ease, energy and healthy, happy feet—a huge gift!

Sense the benefits and share the love
Notice if your gratitude practice affects how you feel throughout the day. Share it out into the world by verbalizing what you are grateful for, or expressing your appreciation for those around with a card or a hug. You might find the routine aspects of life that we can easily take for granted seem fresh and rewarding.