At this festive time of year when Thanksgiving is upon us and the rest of the holiday season kicks into gear, gratitude certainly becomes a central theme for many of us. Additionally, as I discussed in my previous post, surviving the stress of the holidays (not to mention the mountains of food!) is also a theme deserving of our attention.
Food and Moderation
When you’re living with diabetes, dietary and lifestyle moderation is certainly something to constantly keep top of mind. And like I said in my previous post, portion control and making good choices is a large part of that challenge.
Our society is not necessarily one of moderation, so those of us who choose to (or need to) be moderate sometimes have to go against the grain, so to speak, so even when others are encouraging you to gorge along with the rest of the crowd, you need to have the presence of mind to say, “No thanks, I’m all set.”
In many cultures and ethnic groups, feeding others (and watching them eat!) is equated with love. I come from a European Jewish background myself, so the tendency to want others to stuff themselves silly is practically genetic!
Whatever your culture or family origins, as a person living with diabetes you need to stand your ground in the interest of your health, and that can be a challenge when everyone else wants you to get yourself as close to exploding as possible.
The Health Benefits of Gratitude
Meanwhile, gratitude is something that we can never have enough of, and no matter how much we try, we can’t overdo it when it comes to expressing our thanks.
In the fields of mind-body medicine and psychology, research shows that gratitude actually has many physiological, emotional and mental benefits, and this time of year gives us reason to think about the things we’re grateful for, express them, and perhaps see how we can incorporate gratitude into our daily lives throughout the year.
Based on the research, gratitude can do many things, including improve relationships, facilitate communication, improve morale and productivity, decrease negative thinking, and improve quality of life.
Other research shows that the expression of gratitude can actually positively impact your sleep quality, while several landmark studies point to the fact that gratitude may actually be cardioprotective, meaning that it can actually improve heart health and prevent heart attacks!
Further, gratitude can decrease depression and anxiety and increase feelings of satisfaction.
According to cutting-edge research by the Institute of Heartmath, sincere feelings of gratitude can help to cause a synchronization of the brain and heart, creating a state that has been scientifically defined as “coherence”. In this state, it appears that many of the body’s systems function more efficiently, with far-reaching physiological and psychoemotional effects.
This all goes to show that your emotional state (which can be greatly impacted by the expression of gratitude) has a direct effect on your physiology and your overall health.
Pile On The Gratitude
So, when everyone else is piling on the extra servings of dessert and stuffing, try piling on the gratitude instead. Even if you really want that extra slice of pie, try giving thanks for the slice you did have, how wonderful it tasted, and how good you’ll feel that you didn’t have more “just for taste”.
Gratitude has huge implications for your health, whether you have diabetes or not. Try it on for size this holiday season, and see how good you feel to be using gratitude as yet another powerful tool in your self-care toolbox!