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How Gratitude Affects Your Health

Being thankful can strengthen your immune system.

It might sound like a cliche, but counting your blessings really can be good for you. Research shows people who consider themselves as highly grateful tend to be healthier. They have stronger immune systems and seem to fight off illnesses better. Even when they do get sick, they experience lower blood pressure, suffer less depression and bounce back quicker.

Grateful people also report that they sleep longer, experience lower levels of stress and have stronger relationships.

You, too, can reap the health benefits of gratitude. Try these thankful tips:

  • Send thank you notes. Tell someone how happy you are she’s in your life. Let the people who have made a difference in your life how much they mean to you.  Even better: Practice the nearly long-lost art of the handwritten note.
  • Write down one thing each day for which you are grateful on slips of paper and store them in a gratitude jar. Your grateful thoughts can be everyday-ordinary (the garbage disposal has finally been fixed) to extraordinary (being alive to see a beautiful sunrise). Pick a day to read through the slips.
  • Keep a gratitude journal. Oprah does it, and you can, too. Keep a written record of the gifts you’ve received. Pick a time of day—early morning, lunchtime, just before bed—and share your thoughts about those gifts.
  • Pray. Thank a higher power for your blessings through prayer. (Note: Recent research shows a majority of Americans turn to prayer during times of stress.)
  • Meditate. Focus on what you’re grateful for—healthy children, the first snow of the season, a beautiful rainbow—in the present moment.

Switch up your expressions of gratitude to keep the practice fresh. But choose methods that resonate with you so you’ll be sure to stick with them.


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