Studies find that expressing gratitude can have a positive influence on your immune system and overall health.
Dr. Robert A. Emmons of the University of California, Davis, and Dr. Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami, both psychologists, conducted a 10-week study with three groups observed. Each group was asked to write down several sentences a week about what was happening in their lives, each with a specific focus.
The first group wrote about events, experiences, and people they were grateful for. The second group was asked to write about things that irritated them and the third group wrote about what had affected them without an emphasis being placed as ‘good’ or ‘bad’.
The gratitude group resulted in fewer doctor visits than the group who wrote their frustrations. The study also showed the group who expressed what was good in their lives, exercised more.
This speaks to the power of focus or direction we can give to the mind. Doctors and self-help promoters like Anthony Robbins, Oprah Winfrey, Deepak Chopra, and Echart Tolle agree on how our attention or what we continually think about, impacts our relationships, our productivity, and our health.
“What you focus on expands, and when you focus on the goodness in your life, you create more of it.” Oprah Winfrey
How The Holidays Can Weaken Your Immune System
If giving thanks can improve our health, why is there an increase in illness during and immediately following the Thanksgiving weekend?
Calorie Overload - The average American consumes about 4,500 calories on Thanksgiving day. Plus, pie for breakfast the next morning and all the leftovers, have most of us eating a higher than average daily calories by as much as 100%.
Colder Weather - For those who live in areas with 4 seasons, the end of November usually brings a noticeable drop in temperatures, which affect the biome.
Pre-Holiday Work Load & Stress - Before most people take time off for the holiday, they spend increased time under higher stress loads at work.
Travel - If you travel via airplane, train or subway, there are long lines with more travelers to share germs and viruses from different environments. Aircraft cabins have lower humidity and can cause dehydration. People also tend to drink less water to avoid having to cram themselves into the the tight lavatory.
Memories & Emotions - The holidays can bring up a lot of memories and emotions. Fond memories can foster positive emotions, and being grateful will come easily and naturally. However, tension from a past argument with your sister or hearing a political view from your uncle that triggers an immediate negative emotional response requires more effort.
Overcoming The Odds To Become Stronger
Thankfully, we’re not entirely at the mercy of some bug going around. With a healthy plan of action, you can use this time to strengthen your immunity.
Eat Whole Foods - Processed foods contain fillers and preservatives that tax the body’s defenses.
Exercise - Physical activity is not only good for burning calories and circulation but moving your body activates your lymphatic system to eliminate toxins. Going for a walk or hike is a fun and healthy way to enjoy friends and family. Gratitude and exercise releases endorphins and dopamine. When you do things that make you feel good, your outlook can change the way you see the world.
Get Plenty of Rest - Between catching up with people you may not see regularly and meal prep, sometimes sufficient sleep gets sacrificed. Studies have shown that an attitude of gratitude provides more restful sleep. You’ll find it easier to drift off as well.
Write in a Gratitude Journal - This is a great way to start and end the day and only needs to take 5 to 20 minutes. An easy way to get started is asking the question, “What am I grateful for right now?” “What do I appreciate about the person I am with?” Now, ask yourself, “Why?” This will help you feel the emotion of gratitude.
Prayer, Meditation, and Conscious Breathing - These are great tools to ‘reset’ your mind and ‘re-mind’ yourself that you have the power to direct your thoughts. Thinking of the things you’re grateful for as you begin these activities help your mind relax. You can take a few breaths, or say a prayer or meditate right where you are, doing most anything, even if it’s for 10 seconds.
Use Humor To Shift Perspective - Another tool you can use when you feel frustrated, tired or overwhelmed is humor. Find something ironic, coincidental or fun in the current situation. Laughing at a situation or yourself helps re-frame reality.
Create Some Alone Time - This one isn’t just for introverts, but if you are an introvert, be sure to take time to clear your frequency and re-energize.
"Happiness and freedom begin with a clear understanding of one principle; Some things are within your control, and some things are not."Epictetus, Greek Philosopher
Let’s face the fact that we are vulnerable to a number of stresses during the holiday season, many of which we can’t control. However, we are not powerless.
In every moment of every day, we can control our thoughts and how we respond. Our minds are complex and powerful. The subconscious mind is basically our auto-pilot. It serves as our processor which takes care of many of our bodily functions. If we aren’t aware or don’t choose to engage our conscious mind, the subconscious mind can even process our interactions with others, relying on our stored data, which contains biases and judgments.
Shift your attention to gratitude and ask yourself a question that puts the subconscious to work, creating your desired result.
Give your immune system a boost with Probiotics and Immune Shield. Since you’ll likely be exposed to an onslaught of germs, use Immune Shield with ionic silver to fight the bad bacteria and add good bacteria to strengthen your microbiome with Probiotics.