gratitude is good for the heart

How Can Gratitude Help Your Heart?

gratitude is good for the heartDo you ever feel that stress is taking over your life? That you’re constantly overwhelmed or anxious about work, home, school, family and your social life?

In today’s world, stress and anxiety can come to us from a variety of sources. Traffic during your morning commute, running late for a meeting or getting negative feedback from your boss can all cause you to feel down and cynical.

Constant negativity can lead to depression which is linked to poor heart health, inflammation, and a weakened immune system.

Did you know there’s a natural tendency to hold onto negative information in order to avoid it in the future? Neuroscientists refer to this as the “negativity bias.”

So how do we counteract our natural inclination to focus on negative information? One way to combat negativity is with gratitude.

Studies suggest that the practice of gratitude can dramatically impact your life for the better. It has been shown to lower blood pressure and improve immune function, plus grateful people tend to exercise more, eat better, are less likely to smoke or abuse alcohol and have higher rates of adhering to medications.

Sounds simple, right?! Take time to be more thankful and reap the healthy benefits throughout multiple aspects of your life.

So, how do you get started? Like all healthy habits, change doesn’t happen overnight. But if you deliberately make time each day to be more grateful, even in small ways, you can slowly build the routine of gratitude throughout your life.

Some experts say it takes 21 days to form a new habit. That’s just 3 short weeks! Lucky for you, we have a really cool challenge to learn to be grateful… with the 21 Days of Gratitude Challenge. Taking just a few moments each day to practice gratitude for 21 days, you will see immediate benefits to your overall wellbeing. And that’s something to be grateful for!

Here’s your challenge for the next 21 days (and PS- you can print out this pretty one-pager so you can hang this in your home or office as a gentle reminder to participate every day!)

Day 1: Write down 1 thing you’re really good at.

Day 2: Find 3 positive ways to describe yourself, write them down and put them somewhere you will see them.

Day 3: Take a photo of something you find beautiful (bonus points for posting it to social media!)

Day 4: If something frustrates you today, take a moment to reframe and find something that IS going your way.

Day 5: Take 2 minutes to list the awesome things your body can do, and remember them when you’re feeling down.

Day 6: Rename your alarm to a nice message, like “The Universe has your back!”, to help you start the day in a positive frame of mind.

Day 7: Think of something about your body that you tend to think of as less than perfect. Then, write a little note of appreciation about it.

Day 8: Look for someone to help today without expecting anything in return.

Day 9: Reach out to someone who could use some extra appreciation.

Day 10: Think of someone who makes your day better and invite them to lunch.

Day 11: Write a note of appreciation to someone you really care about.

Day 12: Offer a hug to someone you’re grateful for. Make it a genuine two-armer!

Day 13: Text someone and tell them why you’re grateful for them.

Day 14: Schedule some time to volunteer in your community. Don’t know where to start? Look for opportunities here.

Day 15: Write down what you’ve eaten today and be grateful for every item without judging any of it as “good” or “bad.”

Day 16: Next time life doesn’t go your way, try to think of something about the situation that you can be grateful for.

Day 17: Take a moment to invite someone you’re thankful for to dinner.

Day 18: Pause before our next meal to sit in gratitude. Notice how yummy it looks and smells, and feel grateful to the person who prepared it (especially if it was you!).

Day 19: Think of someone whose cooking warms your soul and tell them about how much their nourishment has meant to you.

Day 20: During your next meal, try to put your fork down between each bite and really enjoy the flavors, rather than wolfing it down.

Day 21: Take 2 minutes to reflect and write about how you feel after having participated in this challenge. Then, keep the ‘tude going all year long!

Looking for more healthy living tips? Check out www.heart.org/healthyforgood!