Becoming a healthier you is not only about eating nutritious food and moving throughout the day. Expressing positive affirmations, getting involved in your community, managing stress, and finding your self-purpose are all important components of health. One thing that all of these have in common is gratitude. 

Gratitude is the quality of being thankful and showing appreciation for someone or something (including yourself). It can also be described as the emotional response to a beneficial experience. Everyone knows that it feels nice to be appreciated. But did you know that there are proven scientific benefits of expressing gratitude?

An increase in feelings of gratitude is associated with improved neural modulation (brain function) in the prefrontal cortex. The prefrontal cortex is located at the front of the brain and contributes to personality development and planning. Gratitude has also been associated with higher levels of social support, well-being, and a lower significance of burnout. A study of 2,621 participants showed that those who scored higher in the category of “thankfulness” had a lower risk of depression, anxiety disorders, addiction, eating disorder tendencies, and phobias.

Gratitude can be shown in the appreciation of everyday life. Being grateful to be able to walk, drive a car, have a job for income, and nourish your body can change your whole outlook on life. The list of things to be grateful for is endless and there are countless actions you can take to express that feeling. Writing a list of what you’re thankful for, composing a gratitude letter, or speaking it out loud can all play a part in improving your mental health.

Managing stress is a vital part of mental health and while there are infinite ways you might manage your stress levels, there are small actionable steps that anyone can utilize. Dividing an overwhelming task into more approachable steps, planning small consistent habits rather than massive life changes, and rewarding yourself for a job well done are great places to start.

Taking breaks for mental relaxation for even 5 minutes is also very beneficial. Deep breathing, listening to calming music, or sitting in silence with your eyes closed repeating affirmations are all examples.

Once you’ve mastered thinking in small steps and giving yourself breaks, you can begin to ask yourself larger questions. A major one is finding your self-purpose, the final component of being committed to longevity. Ask yourself: what do you love, what are you good at, what does the world need? 

These can be loaded questions, so remember to start small. For example, when asking yourself, what does the world need, start with how you can make a single person’s day? You can open the door for them, compliment their outfit, or pay it forward in the drive-thru. Any of these actionable steps will make you feel more grateful for the world we live in and inspire others to do the same.

Making those small changes in your life is enhanced with eating a healthy, whole food diet. By providing our body with what it needs like vibrant vegetables, fiber-rich whole grains and legumes, and lean protein we’re setting our mind and our body up for success every day. Our N4L meals are literally giving you what you need to approach your life with a positive, grateful mindset. And when you’ve achieved this, your life can truly change!

We hope everyone has a fantastic holiday season this year!