Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Benefits of Saying 'Thanks'

Lately, on the 365 Letters Facebook page, I've posted several items about writing thank-you notes. The topic seems to have been in the news a lot lately, from golfer Jordan Spieth's thank-you letter to the family that started the fund that helped pay for his education, to an article about how thank-you notes can be great business networking tools. Even The American Greetings card company has launched a thank-you campaign.

I recently spotted another mention of the benefits of gratitude, a news release by the American Psychological Association. Although the item doesn't specifically mention writing thank-you notes, it did include journaling. It stands to reason that people who show their gratitude by writing letters of thanks would experience some of the benefits discovered in the research.

According to the report, the study involved 186 men and women who had been diagnosed with asymptomatic heart failure for at least three months. Using standard psychological tests, the researchers obtained scores for gratitude and spiritual well-being. They then compared those scores with the patients’ scores for depressive symptom severity, sleep quality, fatigue, self-efficacy (belief in one’s ability to deal with a situation) and inflammatory markers. They found higher gratitude scores were associated with better mood, higher quality sleep, more self-efficacy and less inflammation. (Inflammation can often worsen heart failure.)

To further test their findings, the researchers asked some of the patients to write down three things for which they were thankful most days of the week for eight weeks. Both groups continued to receive regular clinical care during that time.

“We found that those patients who kept gratitude journals for those eight weeks showed reductions in circulating levels of several important inflammatory biomarkers, as well as an increase in heart rate variability while they wrote. Improved heart rate variability is considered a measure of reduced cardiac risk,” Mills said. “It seems that a more grateful heart is indeed a more healthy heart, and that gratitude journaling is an easy way to support cardiac health.”

1 comment:

Christina said...

I think the lesson here is...send more thank you notes! :)

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