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Unlocking The Power Of Gratitude

Apr 24, 2023

Gratitude is an essential aspect of health and wellness that can have a significant impact on our physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Research has shown that practicing gratitude regularly has numerous benefits for our overall health, including reducing stress, improving sleep, enhancing immune function, increasing happiness and well-being, and improving relationships with others [1][2][3].

Stress is a common factor in many chronic health conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and autoimmune diseases [4]. Chronic stress can disrupt our body's natural physiological balance and lead to inflammation, hormonal imbalances, and impaired immune function, which can increase the risk of developing chronic health conditions. Gratitude can help counteract the negative effects of stress by promoting a positive mindset, reducing the production of stress hormones, and enhancing our body's ability to cope with stress [5].

Many people become addicted to stressful or unhealthy emotions because of the impact they have on our brain chemistry. Stressful emotions such as fear, anger, and sadness trigger the release of stress hormones like cortisol, which can create a physiological response similar to that of a "high" or addictive substance. Over time, our brain becomes accustomed to this response and may seek out or become dependent on these emotions as a coping mechanism. However, practicing gratitude can help break this cycle by shifting our brain's focus towards positive emotions, creating new neural pathways, and promoting healthier emotional responses [6].

Physiology and emotions are intricately connected. Our thoughts, emotions, and perceptions can trigger physiological responses in our body, and vice versa. For example, when we are stressed, our body responds with increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure, and heightened cortisol levels. Similarly, when we are anxious or sad, it can manifest in physical symptoms such as muscle tension, headaches, and digestive issues. However, we can shift our physiology and emotions through various techniques, including mindfulness, deep breathing, exercise, and practicing gratitude. By consciously shifting our physiological state through these techniques, we can positively impact our emotions and overall well-being [7].

Shifting from an unhealthy emotional state to gratitude involves conscious effort and practice. One effective approach is to cultivate mindfulness and self-awareness to recognize our emotions and thoughts without judgment. We can then consciously choose to shift our focus towards positive aspects in our lives, such as things we are grateful for. Keeping a gratitude journal, expressing gratitude to others, and engaging in daily gratitude practices can all be helpful in shifting our emotional state from negativity to gratitude [8].

Gratitude can be applied to various areas of our lives to create positive change. We can use gratitude in our relationships by expressing appreciation and thankfulness to our loved ones, colleagues, and friends, which can enhance our connections and foster a positive environment. Gratitude can also be used in our self-care routine by being grateful for our body's abilities and taking steps to nourish it with healthy food, exercise, and rest. Additionally, we can practice gratitude in our work or career by acknowledging our achievements and expressing gratitude for opportunities and challenges that have helped us grow. Practicing gratitude in different areas of our lives can create a positive mindset and foster overall well-being [9].

In conclusion, gratitude plays a vital role in health and wellness from a functional medicine perspective. It can positively impact our physical, mental, and emotional health, counteract the effects of stress, break the cycle of addictive or unhealthy emotions, and shift our physiology and emotions towards positivity. Incorporating gratitude practices into our daily lives can be a powerful tool for creating positive change in various areas of our lives and improving our overall well-being.

Click Here to listen to Dr. Gupta take a deep dive into the healing power of gratitude with Mariola Czarniak, or Click Here to watch the video version of this episode.


  1. Emmons, R. A., & McCullough, M. E. (2003). Counting blessings versus burdens: An experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well being in daily life. Journal of personality and social psychology, 84(2), 377-389. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.84.2.377
  1. Mills, P. J., Redwine, L., Wilson, K., Pung, M. A., Chinh, K., Greenberg, B. H., Lunde, O., Maisel, A., & Raisinghani, A. (2015). The role of gratitude in spiritual well-being in asymptomatic heart failure patients. Spirituality in Clinical Practice, 2(1), 5-17. doi:10.1037/scp0000061

  2. Wood, A. M., Froh, J. J., & Geraghty, A. W. (2010). Gratitude and well-being: A review and theoretical integration. Clinical Psychology Review, 30(7), 890-905. doi:10.1016/j.cpr.2010.03.005

  3. Black, P. H. (2006). The inflammatory consequences of psychologic stress: Relationship to insulin resistance, obesity, atherosclerosis and diabetes mellitus, type II. Medical Hypotheses, 67(4), 879-891. doi:10.1016/j.mehy.2006.04.008

  4. Keng, S. L., Smoski, M. J., & Robins, C. J. (2011). Effects of mindfulness on psychological health: A review of empirical studies. Clinical Psychology Review, 31(6), 1041-1056. doi:10.1016/j.cpr.2011.04.006

  5. Sin, N. L., & Lyubomirsky, S. (2009). Enhancing well-being and alleviating depressive symptoms with positive psychology interventions: A practice-friendly meta-analysis. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 65(5), 467-487. doi:10.1002/jclp.20593

  6. Gross, J. J. (2015). Emotion regulation: Current status and future prospects. Psychological Inquiry, 26(1), 1-26. doi:10.1080/1047840X.2014.940781

  7. Emmons, R. A. (2007). Thanks!: How the new science of gratitude can make you happier. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

  8. Seligman, M. E. P., Steen, T. A., Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2005). Positive psychology progress: Empirical validation of interventions. American Psychologist, 60(5), 410-421. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.60.5.410