More Than Just Turkey: Giving Thanks Is Good for Your Mental Health

While we love turkey and pumpkin pie as much as the next person, we also know that eating delicious food only makes us feel good temporarily (we’re looking at you, serotonin!)

But did you know that choosing to give thanks this weekend will also help improve your mood, and that routinely practicing gratitude can have positive effects that are long term?

With World Mental Health Day being so close to Thanksgiving, why not focus on the things you are thankful for… while stuffing your face at the same time? Two birds, one stone.

Giving thanks is good for you

In a recent analysis of 91 studies on gratitude, giving thanks has been shown to have significant benefits when it comes to our mental wellness. From forging and maintaining deeper friendships to practicing empathy and forgiveness, it can’t hurt to find a reason to say thanks now and thenespecially considering some studies go so far as to say gratitude can decrease feelings of depression.

Being thankful is also good for the heart, our immune systems, and helps us get a better sleep at night… just to name a few!

Not as easy as (pumpkin) pie

For anyone who has challenged themselves to record one thing they’re thankful for every day, you know just how difficult it can be. But here’s the thing: forcing yourself to sit down and really think about it—that is, being mindfulis just as good for your mental health as the act of being grateful. 

If you’re not sure where to begin, below are three ideas to get you started this Thanksgiving:

1. Show some spontaneous gratitude

If you are having a get-together, once everyone is seated for dinner go around the table and have everyone say one thing they are grateful for this year. If you aren’t joining a group, you can still show gratitude to your social circle – and not just on the holidays!

2. Give anonymous thanks

Slip a piece of paper under everyone’s glass of Pinot Noir, and ask them to write down something they’d like to give thanks for. Read them aloud part way through the meal. Depending on how receptive everyone is, you could even turn it into a guessing game.

3. Thank your loved ones 

Have children say why they’re thankful for their parents and get the couples in the room to thank their partner for something they appreciate but don’t necessarily get the chance to express. 

Who knows? Someone at the table might be thankful for you. And you can’t help but feel good when someone is grateful for your efforts.

So much more than turkey

And remember, Thanksgiving was born out of the idea to… well, give thanks! So try to remember the origins of the holiday while you’re in your food coma. The best part is that practicing gratitude will continue to boost your mood longer than the delicious food did.

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