Thanksgiving is fast approaching, and the theme of the holiday is all about gratitude. So much so that November is also labeled National Gratitude Month. This year, it feels extraordinarily difficult to express gratitude, even for just the holiday, but taking the time to list what we are thankful or joyous for is extremely important to mental and physical health.
Expressing and receiving acts of kindness and gratitude activate the part of the brain called the hypothalamus where dopamine is produced. Dopamine along with serotonin are responsible for regulating emotions and enhancing our mood internally. In addition to making us feel happier, it also regulates sleep. A gratitude filled brain is more likely to sleep more soundly which allows for your body to make necessary repairs overnight and to wake feeling refreshed each morning. It has also been shown to reduce the level of the stress hormone cortisol as well as increase cardiac functioning and make you more resilient to emotional setbacks and negative experiences. Another benefit to reducing cortisol is a significant reduction in symptoms of depression and anxiety.
With all the mental and physical benefits that gratitude provides, we need to allow ourselves to be grateful and happy for good things that happen in our lives. If you have worked hard to achieve goals, you deserve to reap the rewards. This helps us to be even more grateful for what we have. The ability to acknowledge what you are grateful for grows stronger with use and practice. If you need help expressing gratitude, our office is prepared to invest in all our patients’ wellness promotion, prevention, treatment, and recovery. Please contact us to determine if our practice will be a good fit for you.