It turns out that emotions play an important role in health, according to a study released early April by the American Psychological Association.
According to their findings, both recognizing and giving thanks for every positive moment and aspect of your life improves the body both mentally and physically as shown by patients with asymptomatic heart failure.
Typically attributed to those with higher levels of spirituality, gratitude can be attributed to any number of things, including pets and a divine deity. Those in the study that acknowledged their blessings slept better, had better moods, were less tired and, more importantly, had lower levels of inflammatory biomarkers in regards to their heart health.
It ended up using 186 men and women that had been diagnosed with asymptomatic heart failure for no less than three months. This meant that though they had developed a heart disease from something like a heart attack, they did not show heart failure symptoms.
Because those at this stage can easily progress to symptomatic heart failure with a death rate five times higher, doctors recognize it as a crucial point to halt the disease entirely, hence why finding any means at staving off progression is so important.
The study was performed by using psychological tests to grade spiritual well-being and gratitude levels. These were then compared to their sleep quality, depressive symptom severity, self-efficacy, fatigue and inflammatory markers. The tests showed gratitude and spirituality led to better scores all around.
The most surprising bit of evidence, however, was that spirituality was only partially correlated with healthier scores. In the end, it was gratitude that made the real difference.
They studied this phenomenon further by having some patients keep a gratitude journal every day of the week for eight weeks. Those that did so showed a decrease in cardiac risk. It would seem that a mind less focused on a stressful situation would cause the body less stress leading to an overall improvement in health.