How Practicing Gratitude Makes You Happier and Healthier

A blurred person holding a rectangular wooden sign up to the camera that says Gratitude.

We know you’re rocking your workouts and focusing on clean eating — we also want to make sure you’re fueling and nourishing your spirit! There is one simple practice we love that brings more joy, calm, and balance into your day. The best part: You can practice it anytime, anywhere in just a few minutes and it’s absolutely free. 

We’re talking about gratitude, the act of being thankful and expressing appreciation for the gifts you have in your life. This may sound like something that happens naturally, but it is actually a practice. Studies show that people can (and should!) consciously and deliberately cultivate gratitude ¹. It’s a muscle you can learn to strengthen and flex — just like in your workouts! 

Why practice gratitude? 

There are so many amazing physical, mental, and spiritual benefits to cultivating gratitude. Here are just a few of the incredible things gratitude can do for you: 

Brings on positivity 

Multiple studies show that fostering gratitude helps you feel happier, more hopeful, and more satisfied with your life. This also extends to how you treat others — people who practice gratitude are more likely to be empathetic, forgiving, helpful, and supportive than those who are less grateful ². 

Gratitude also helps curb the comparison game that is so common these days. When you’re grateful for what you do have in the present moment, you’re not thinking about the things you don’t have yet or comparing yourself to friends, coworkers, or people on social media. The focus is on counting your own blessings rather than keeping a tally of others. 

Reduces stress and depression 

People who kept a gratitude journal for two weeks reduced their perceived stress levels by 28 percent. Gratitude actually impacts your hormones — it has been linked to lowering levels of the stress hormone cortisol by up to 23 percent. 

Gratitude also helps prevent and ease depression. In one study, two simple activities — counting blessings and gratitude letter writing — reduced the risk of depression by 41 percent over a six-month period ³. 

Boosts workout motivation 

In a study, people who practiced gratitude spent 1 ½ hours a week more exercising than those who didn’t ⁴. That’s an extra Physique 57 workout class plus some! 

Gratitude has even more perks for your physical health too — it is linked with lower blood pressure, stronger heart health, and less chronic pain and inflammation ⁵. 

Improves sleep

Grateful people actually have the best rest! Research shows that gratitude is associated with getting more hours of sleep and better sleep quality ⁶. 

Ups energy levels

In multiple studies, people who practiced gratitude reported feeling more energetic and invigorated throughout their day. 

Enhances confidence

Gratitude also helps you feel even more empowered at the barre. A study in the Journal of Applied Sport Psychology found that gratitude increases athletes’ self-esteem ⁷. Radiating confidence will help you perform your best and crush your workouts! 

How to practice gratitude 

There is no “right” way to practice gratitude — it’s an individual and personal ritual. Here are a few practices you can try. See what feels most natural for you! 

Keep a gratitude journal 

Start a journal dedicated specially to gratitude. Every morning when you first wake up or at night before you go to bed, write down three things you are grateful for that day. We encourage you to make your gratitudes specific — they can be something as simple as your morning matcha, your comfy sheets, or that you got 8 hours of sleep the night before. They can also be things you observed in nature or with your loved ones and community. For example, hearing your child’s laugh or sharing a smile with a stranger. Being specific will help you notice and appreciate the little moments of your day that bring you joy. 

Write thank you letters

Take some time to write a handwritten thank you note to someone you love or admire. Tell them exactly why you’re grateful for them and how they’ve made a positive impact on your life. This will bring them so much happiness and it will help you cultivate gratitude for others. 

Express thanks out loud

A simple “thank you” goes a long way! So often we say “thanks” out of habit or obligation. Instead, try to slow down and put intention and heart behind your “thank yous” — whether you are thanking your partner or your barista! 

Be present in your surroundings

Take a few moments to pause, look around, and soak in all the beauty around you — the feeling of the sun or wind on your face, the sound of birds or other people’s laughter, the smells in your kitchen as you’re cooking. There’s so much to be thankful for when you look for it!

Thank your body 

When you finish a workout, put your hands on your heart and thank your beautiful, strong body for everything it does for you. 

Always include your why

Whenever you are expressing gratitude — in a journal, to yourself, or to others — make sure you include WHY you are grateful for it. This makes your gratitude even more intentional and powerful.

Sources:

  1. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/gratitude
  2. https://positivepsychology.com/gratitude-research/#:~:text=The%20study%20showed%20that%20grateful,be%20more%20pro%2Dsocially%20oriented
  3. https://health.ucdavis.edu/medicalcenter/features/2015-2016/11/20151125_gratitude.html
  4. http://local.psy.miami.edu/faculty/mmccullough/gratitude/Emmons_McCullough_2003_JPSP.pdf
  5. https://health.ucdavis.edu/medicalcenter/features/2015-2016/11/20151125_gratitude.html
  6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19073292/
  7. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/271567980_Gratitude_Enhances_Change_in_Athletes’_Self-Esteem_The_Moderating_Role_of_Trust_in_Coach