Thanksgiving is Good for Your Health!
Our mothers encouraged us to do it—
The Bible instructs us to do it—
And now, medical science tells us that we need to do it for our health.
Okay, I’ll admit the traditional Thanksgiving meal may not be good for our waistlines, but by celebrating the true spirit of the holiday, we can reap a cornucopia of benefits for our mental and physical health.
Studies on gratitude have revealed that:
- Holding on to feelings of thankfulness boosts the immune system, increases blood supply to the heart, and decreases levels of stress hormones.
- People who describe themselves as feeling grateful to God or other people in general tend to have higher vitality and more optimism, suffer less stress, and experience fewer episodes of clinical depression than the population as a whole. These results hold even when researchers factor out such things as age, health, and income.
- Daily self-guided exercises with young adults resulted in higher reported levels of alertness, enthusiasm, attentiveness, energy, and better sleep compared to a focus on hassles or listing ways that participants thought they were better off than others.
Besides these benefits, just imagine how a spirit of thankfulness will transform our character, enrich our relationships, and even encourage strangers who interact with us. We can cultivate the habit of gratitude by purposefully including giving thanks as a regular part of our prayer life, writing in a gratitude journal to help us focus on our blessings each day, or simply keeping thank-you notes visible to remind us to express gratitude to other people.
This Thursday, I hope you’ll appreciate how the holiday can improve your health—even as you enjoy those rich dishes and desserts. And now, allow me to give my own immune system a boost by thanking you for reading this post. 🙂
Dianne Neal Matthews is a freelance writer and the author of four daily devotional books including The One Year Women of the Bible and Designed for Devotion, which won a 2013 Selah Award. She also writes for websites and blogs, contributes to compilations (including Guideposts’ Mornings with Jesus), and teaches at writers’ conferences. To learn more, visit www.DianneNealMatthews.com or connect with Dianne through Facebook or Twitter.