Adopting an attitude of gratitude this Thanksgiving doesn't just feel good, it actually does good. Seriously...like, for your health. Researchers have shown several links between being grateful and your mental and physical health. So as the season of giving thanks is upon us, think about these five reasons you should say thank you—you know, beyond just having good manners.
1. It's good for your heart. And not just in the warm, fuzzy way. According to a recent study at the University of California, San Diego, being mindful of the things you're thankful for each day actually lowers inflammation in the heart and improves rhythm. Researchers looked at a group of adults with existing heart issues and had some keep a gratitude journal. After just two months, they found that the grateful group actually showed improved heart health.
2. You'll smarten up. Teens who actively practiced an attitude of gratitude had higher GPAs than their ungrateful counterparts, says research published in the Journal of Happiness Studies. More mental focus? Now that's something to be thankful for.
3. It's good for your relationships. In an ideal world, Thanksgiving means warm family reunions and guilt-free pumpkin pie. In reality, it usually means stressful family tensions and gluttonous overindulgence. Expressing gratitude instead of frustration will do more than just smooth things over—it will actually help your emotional health. Expressing and attitude of gratitude raises levels of empathy and abolishes any desire to get even, found researchers at the University of Kentucky. Give thanks and you'll actually be happy to let your bratty cousin take the last slice of pie.
4. You'll sleep more soundly. Good luck crushing that a.m. CrossFit class when you've had a crappy night's sleep. To send yourself off to a more restful dreamland each night, stop thinking about your To Do list and start thinking about the things you're grateful for. Writing in a gratitude journal before turning in will help you get a longer, deeper night's sleep, says a study published in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being. And who isn't grateful for that elusive eighth hour?
5. You'll have better sex. Expressing gratitude in your romantic relationships is like an aphrodisiac. Couples who regularly say thank you to their partner feel more connected and more confident, according to a study published in the journal Personal Relationships. Say hello to some hot holiday sex.