Wednesday, December 8th, 2021

angible mental and physical health benefits from gratitude.

Regularly practicing gratitude lowers blood pressure and heart rate, according to a new study that measured physiological responses when participants were asked to rank their emotions when asked a range of questions.

ACROSS AMERICA — As another pandemic Thanksgiving rolls around and Americans tiptoe back into treasured traditions, new research shows it’s healthy to take stock of what we and the people around us have lost — loved ones, jobs, freedom of movement — through the lens of what binds us together as a society: gratitude.

The study by psychologists Wendy Mendes and David Newman of the University of San Francisco and Amie Gordon of the University of Michigan adds to a growing body of research that shows tangible mental and physical health benefits from gratitude.–176235580/–176236931/–176236932/–176236934/–176236933/–176236954/

Previous studies have used brain imaging, optogenetics and other sophisticated equipment, but this one used a cell phone app equipped with a sensor to measure blood pressure and heart rate as users reported their current feelings of gratitude stress and other emotions.

Patch explores the intentionality of gratitude in “30 Days Of Gratitude.” Come back to Across America Patch every day through November and read more about gratitude.

Practicing gratitude doesn’t mean burying your head in the sand and pretending that bad things — such as the global coronavirus pandemic that robbed us of loved ones and memories made with them — don’t happen. Rather, experts say, look at what’s not going right through the lens of what is going right.

The psychologists’ study, which involved 4,825 participants from the United States, Europe and Asia, was conducted March 15, 2019, to Dec. 8, 2020. Participants were asked to answer questions about their emotions three times a day for 21 days.

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The app measured participants’ blood pressure and heart rates as they were asked to rank, on a scale of 1-7, how strongly they agreed or disagreed with statements about what they’re thankful or grateful for in their lives. Similar questions were asked about stress and other psychological emotions.

The researchers said that by using hard data collected by the app, they didn’t have to rely on people accurately recalling the range of emotions they felt in past experiences.

The data revealed a link between feelings of gratitude and physical health. Those who experienced gratitude had lower heart rates and blood pressure, better sleep quality and lower stress, according to the researchers.

The researchers also measured optimism, a close cousin to gratitude, but different in that it relates to the future as opposed to the present. The psychological and physiological health benefits were similar to those of gratitude, the researchers said.

“However, gratitude and optimism were not completely overlapping constructs: Gratitude was a stronger predictor of felt appreciation toward others and pleasantness when reflecting on the best part of the day, whereas optimism was a stronger predictor of sleep quality, lower stress, and lower unpleasantness when reflecting on the worst part of the day,” the researchers concluded. “These associations reveal both similar and differential influences of positive dispositions on psychological and physiological outcomes that provide insight into health consequences.”

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