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Why You Need To Say What You’re Thankful For This Thanksgiving

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Why You Need To Say What You’re Thankful For This Thanksgiving

Ah, Thanksgiving, the one day each year where we fill up on potatoes and pie while watching hours (and hours) of football with our loved ones. As we all know, the meaning of Thanksgiving is far greater than turkey and a winning team — gratitude is at the root of this American holiday, and there’s a good reason why.

According to experts, reflecting on what you’re thankful has major health benefits. “It literally breathes new life into us. It recharges and it rejuvenates,” Dr. Robert Emmons, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis and founder of a research lab that studies the effects of grateful living, told ABC News. Intentional gratitude is linked to lower blood pressure, improved immune functions and decreased stress, according to USA Today.

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Another perk of having an attitude of gratitude: It helps relationships. “When couples express gratitude more frequently and descriptively to each other, they are happier in their relationship,” Sara Algoe, associate professor of social psychology at the University of North Carolina, told ABC News.

The tradition of going around the dinner table and sharing what you’re thankful for is a start (and a good one at that), but Emmons suggests digging a little deeper. “I think that a reflection of how our lives have been made so much more comfortable by the sacrifices of those who have come before us down through the generations should be the focus of how Thanksgiving should be observed,” he said.

It’s a time to patch up broken relationships and remind your loved ones why the mean so much to you.”It’s putting the ‘you’ in ‘thank you’ that really matters,” Algoe said. “It’s the little part where you’re really calling out the person for the thing they did.”

But let’s be clear: Gratitude extends beyond this special day in November. In a 2003 study, Emmons also found that people who take time weekly to reflect on what they’re thankful for reported less physical illness and spent more time focusing on their health.

Give thanks in whatever way makes most sense to you — at the table, written in a jar (this is Oprah-approved!) or tucked away in a journal. No matter which method you choose, you’ll reap the health benefits (and others will too!). So, what are you most grateful for?

(h/t ABC News)

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