Usually when December rolls around, we start thinking ahead to the goals we’d like to set and the habits we will break in the New Year: also known as making resolutions.
Setting your sights on healthy new habits isn’t a bad choice, but you can gain positive traction from the past year you’ve just been through by looking back and being grateful.
With resolutions for the coming year, you will likely examine what you think you need to improve on, or what is missing in your life. The difference with this practice is you will build on everything that is going well for you, instead of focusing on shortcomings.
Aside from how wonderful that can feel overall, research has shown that can lead to real health and wellness benefits.
A better immune system is linked to an optimistic nature, which is connected to feelings of gratitude, according to WebMD. In one example, law students under stress had more immune-boosting blood cells in their system if they were optimistic than pessimistic, in a study by the University of Utah.
Research suggests that well-being is boosted by general feelings of gratitude. A study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology connects practices like daily exercise and listing off what you are thankful for with more positivity. The researchers wrote there “appear to be benefits to regularly focusing on one’s blessings”.
As reported on in Psychology Today, jotting down a list of all you are thankful for before you go to bed can help you sleep better. Researchers found people fell asleep faster and were able to sleep longer after 15 minutes spent journaling on gratitude.
Research has shown that participants who kept lists of all they were grateful for over a two-month period were more likely to have made progress toward their goals as compared to other participants. The goals were of personal importance: relationship, academic and health.