GRATEFULNESS: GIVING THANKS FOR THE SMALL THINGS

GRATEFULNESS: GIVING THANKS FOR THE SMALL THINGS

Stress: At the Heart of Health Issues Stress leads to changes in cortisol and adrenaline levels. We often hear how cortisol goes high, but it could also go too low. Same with adrenaline. When that happens a ripple effect occurs, disrupting hormones throughout your body (such as thyroid, insulin, estrogen, progesterone, leptin, and more), disrupting your digestion, immune system, and nervous system. By the time stress hits all of these areas it can be like a tsunami, spinning you into a blur of fatigue, pain, and turmoil. By then, your heart hurts both emotionally and physically, because the inflammation, oxidative stress, and nutrient deficiencies that have resulted from that stress prevent it from functioning well. How Gratefulness Counteracts Stress Gratefulness – or giving thanks for the positive aspects of life – on the other hand, has been shown to improve all of the stress symptoms I mentioned at the start of this article: Mood, sleep, energy, focus, digestion, and immunity. A 2015 STUDY AT THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA found that women and men with heart failure who kept a gratitude journal for eight weeks had improved heart rate variability (a good thing) and a reduced risk of heart attacks and heart failure. Other studies have found that the stress hormone cortisol is 23% lower in people who practice gratitude, and the calming part of their nervous system (the parasympathetic) is stronger. Within two weeks of daily gratitude, levels of oxytocin – the bonding hormone – were higher (also a good thing), blood pressure shifted to healthier levels, and both mood and sleep improved. Mental clarity increased while inflammation decreased....