Friday, November 21, 2014

Gratitude is Good for your Heart

Thankfulness can improve your spiritual and physical health and it may even keep you from having a heart attack. You may exercise faithfully and eat a balanced diet but the absence or scarcity of gratitude can interfere with your ability to experience life at its best.

Anger, resentment and sadness elicit the production of stress hormones which are known to harm the cardiovascular system. These feelings stimulate the release of pro-inflammatory chemicals called cytokines. Widespread inflammation is the basis for the development of heart disease, as well as chronic pain, cancers and depression.

Gratitude, forgiveness and love increase the production of beneficial chemicals, like serotonin, which result in a sense of well-being and can ease inflammation, allowing for a stronger, healthier heart. There is new evidence to show that thankfulness can improve blood flow to the heart as well as positively affect a portion of your DNA, the telomeres, that help you live longer.

Everyone experiences negative feelings but what you do when they crop up is up to you. Choosing to let go of the negative thoughts is a pro-active way to be rewarded with happiness and improved physical health. Don't worry if appreciating the goodness of life doesn't come naturally to you. The more you try to be grateful, the easier it will become.

You can journal your grateful thoughts, announce them to your co-workers and share them with your children. Make a game of it with your family, finding one thing to be thankful for each day. The result can be a healthier heart and body and a happier mindset.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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