Gratitude Can Reduce Stress in Our Lives

Thanksgiving can be a time of healing. When the topic of Thanksgiving comes up most people automatically start thinking about food. I know when I was growing up I use to love to go to the relative or friend who could cook the best. Loving food as much as I do, Thanksgiving was my favorite holiday. I would eat so much I had to loosen my pants and then fall into a food comma 30 minutes after dinner. It was a glorious day. I was so excited about food that I would bring containers over to people’s houses so I could have leftovers in my house the next day. I always enjoyed the fellowship that happens in the kitchen or around the dinner table as people sat down and talked to one another about whatever was on their mind at the time.

In the last several years, my life has led me down a different path than I expected or could have ever imagined. I had to adjust to situations that didn’t go the way I anticipated, just like most human beings. These are the situations that build character, wisdom and helped me become a full-fledged adult. During the last several years I gained a deeper understanding of gratitude or giving thanks for all the things I do have instead of lamenting the things that I do not have. This newfound gratitude has made this holiday a time to reflect and openly discuss with others the gifts and blessing that are constantly being placed in our lives. Being in a state of gratitude helps reduce stress and can improve the quality of your health and your life. Interestingly, I found two studies -- one that was done on college-aged adults and the second on older people that both show that gratitude reduces stress. The study on college-aged adults was published in the Journal of Research in Personality in August of 2008. It found that “gratitude lead to higher levels of perceived social support, and lower levels of stress and depression." The research study related to older women published March 2006 in the Journal of Research on Aging found that older women that had gratitude towards God created a buffer to stress in their lives.

Now when I think of Thanksgiving being appreciative or grateful for every little thing I have is what comes to mind first. I wonderful healthy meal is not far behind but it is also something I give thanks for every single time it happens!

Happy Thanksgiving,

Dr. Dae