We all know that gratitude is important for one’s well-bring. It is a common sense that if we are grateful for all the good things that surround us, we will surely have a euphoric and a fulfilling day. Now, even science has got something to say about grateful people for their attitude of gratitude.
A study published by the American Psychological Association in the journal Spirituality in Clinical Practice, says that grateful people tend to have a healthier heart. The study does not only apply to common people in general, but it also shows that showing some gratitude can also result in improved mental and physical health in patients with asymptomatic heart failure, too.
“We found that more gratitude in these patients was associated with better mood, better sleep, less fatigue and lower levels of inflammatory biomarkers related to cardiac health,” said lead author Paul J. Mills, PhD, professor of family medicine and public health at the University of California, San Diego.
For their study, researchers examined data from 186 men and women who had been diagnosed with asymptomatic (Stage B) heart failure for at least three months. Stage B, which Mills describes as an important therapeutic window for halting disease progression and improving quality of life, consists mainly of patients who have had heart attack that damaged the heart, but do not show symptoms of heart failure.
For Stage B patients, risk of progressing to symptomatic (Stage C) heart failure is high. In stage C, the risk of death is five times higher than in Stage B.
The results of the study showed that patients with higher gratitude scores were associated with better mood, higher quality sleep, more self-efficacy and less inflammation. The scores for gratitude and spiritual well-being were achieved using standard psychological tests, according to researchers. They were also surprised to see that gratitude fully or partially accounted for the beneficial effects of spiritual well-being.
“We found that spiritual well-being was associated with better mood and sleep, but it was the gratitude aspect of spirituality that accounted for those effects, not spirituality per se,” said Mills.
To test further, researchers asked some of the patients to write down three things for which they were thankful most days of the week for eight weeks. They found that those patients who kept gratitude journals for showed reductions in circulating levels of several important inflammatory biomarkers, as well as an increase in heart rate variability while they wrote.
“Improved heart rate variability is considered a measure of reduced cardiac risk,” Mills said. “It seems that a more grateful heart is indeed a more healthy heart, and that gratitude journaling is an easy way to support cardiac health.”
If you want to have a healthy heart and live longer, just be grateful. No doubt gratitude is the best medicine for depression, self-pity and fear as it can cause people’s well-being and quality of life to improve.
[Hat Tip: American Psychological Association, The Role of Gratitude in Spiritual Well-Being in Asymptomatic Heart Failure Patients (PDF), Image via Girlygi.it]