Health and Wellness

Posted 6/2/21

How an “Attitude of Gratitude” May Lead to Better Health By Nicole DePalma MS, LMT For those of you who used to watch the Oprah Winfrey Show on a regular basis, one of Ms. O’s mantras if you …

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Health and Wellness


How an “Attitude of Gratitude” May Lead to Better Health

By Nicole DePalma MS, LMT

For those of you who used to watch the Oprah Winfrey Show on a regular basis, one of Ms. O’s mantras if you will was, “Attitude of Gratitude”. Given Oprah’s rough start in life, and how she overcame personal and professional roadblocks along the way to become one of the world’s most popular and powerful women, her “attitude of gratitude” has served her well, and it can do the same for us, too.

Having wrapped up the Memorial Day Holiday Weekend, and now moving into our delightful summer months here in Minnesota, I heard a messaging theme on TV, radio, and social media platforms…that of gratitude. Gratitude for the military veterans and their families and loved ones, that one per cent that keeps the 99 per cent of our American population safe and protected, and the sacrifices they’ve made on our behalf, and gratitude for the promise of spring into summer, and warm sunshine on our faces.

But how does an attitude of gratitude tie in with our personal health? Why is this adage so much more than just happy words? There is a physical tie-in with stress and mental and physical health, and one of those tie-ins is the hormone called cortisol. Cortisol is our body’s main stress hormone which controls mood, fear, and motivation. Cortisol is created in the adrenal glands (small nodules that sit on top of our kidneys). This hormone manages: How our body uses carbohydrates, fats, and proteins The amount of inflammation found in our blood level The regulation of blood pressure The increase of glucose (blood sugar) levels The sleep/wake cycle The energy level we feel How we react to stressors, and returning to an emotional and physical balance after the stressor is removed If we find ourselves in a state of constant stress, our bodies may be “awash” in cortisol, and this may lead to: Anxiety and depression Headaches Heart disease Memory and concentration problems Digestion problems Trouble sleeping Weight gain Cushing Syndrome There is something, called Addison’s Disease when cortisol levels are too low, symptoms here may include: Changes in the skin (darkening is some areas) Constant tiredness Muscle weakening which gets worse Diarrhea, nausea, vomiting Loss of appetite and weight loss Low blood pressure Cortisol is just one example of how hormone regulation is so important for the health and wellness of our bodies and minds! So, let’s take a look now at applying the “attitude of gratitude principle” to our daily prescription of self-care to keep our stress hormones and overall wellbeing on an even keel!

Gratitude has been connected to a healthier life. Several studies of daily journaling of gratitude helps to create overall optimism, physical activity, and fewer doctor visits to subjects who have participated in these types scientific research. People who have participated in this type of study have also reported fewer headaches, less congestion, fewer stomach aches, and fewer sore throats. These people also reported increased physical and mental health.

Upon awakening each day, please recite one thing which you are grateful for. Maybe you had a good night’s sleep, or have an upcoming activity that you’re looking forward to. Whatever it is, have your first thought of the day rest on gratefulness.

Take the time for a “gratefulness journal”. This doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Simply jot down something like, “I’m grateful for these three things.”, or “I’m grateful for these three people.”, etc. It’s so easy in our day to day living to forget or overlook these people and things, or to only see problems or frustrations. An attitude of gratitude isn’t a pollyanna way of looking at life, but a way to gain equilibrium to stressors and recognize that we do often have much to be grateful and thankful for each day. As you finish reading this article, please think of that “one thing” to be thankful for, and you may find a smile coming to your face. I’ll be grateful if this story had some useful information and tips for you moving forward.

Stop and smell the roses. Take a deep breath. Pat your dog or cat. Take a walk. Read an inspiring book. Listen to beautiful music. Whatever it is, I hope you’ll find a moment for gratitude, and see how that moment can lead to wellbeing. Cheers!