The Physiological Effects of Gratitude
Stimulating the vagal nerve complex (which begins in the brainstem and has multiple branches to the heart, viscera, and many other organs making up 80% of our parasympathetic nervous system) is associated with better physical, emotional, and mental well-being.
Improving our vagal tone can occur through every day socializing and laughing, exercising, singing and even acts of gratitude.
Through gratitude, we have the power to physiologically impact our body, creating inner calmness, reducing inflammation, and promoting a sense of safety and happiness by means of the vagal nerve complex.
Here are some simple ways to experience the profound mental and physiological benefits of gratitude:
- 1. Practice the Loving Kindness Meditation; towards yourself, your loved ones, and even people who are challenging for you, send mental wishes of safety, freedom from fear, freedom from sorrow, and mental ease.
- 2. Use your breath to anchor yourself in the present moment; many of the practices on YOGA365 and other meditation apps will guide you through moments of calmness to appreciate the present moment.
- 3. Throughout the day, fill your awareness with a sense of appreciation; our awareness or states of attention change throughout the day; every once in while, deliberately come to a state of awareness, and fill that state with an appreciation of the ability to be aware.
- 4. Share your gratitude for your loved ones; we often take our closest friends and family for granted. If suddenly a family member or friend pops into your mind who you haven’t seen in a while, or spoken to, spontaneously send them a text or call.
- 5. Spread gratitude through social media platforms; social media can feel so negative at times but we can create a positive online atmosphere. My friend Max suggested to me that before I post anything, ask myself, how does this post help people, before pressing send.