December – Health & Wellness Editorial
An Attitude of Gratitude
Tis the season to give! In November many of us celebrated moments of thanks in a traditional holiday that uses food, drink and the company of loved ones as a way to celebrate the many blessings that we receive throughout the year. This month the holiday energy is still flowing and high as we prepare for other holidays and moments of remembrance for giving, receiving and being part of the changes we seek in the world. One of the best gifts you can give your loved ones, friends and the world is to create your very own “Attitude of Gratitude” for December traditions and for the rest of your life!
Being grateful for what you have and in some cases what you do not have, has been scientifically studied and related to improved health. Let me say that again! Cultivating an inner space to focus on being grateful will in turn improve mental & physical wellbeing. One of our favorite doctors that support holistic approaches to health is Dr. Christiane Northrup. She states, “You have the power within you to create the biochemistry of gratitude right now.” She says that by holding feelings of thankfulness for a short time, beneficial physiological changes begin to take place in your body. This includes a reduction in stress hormone levels, increased blood supply to the heart, and increased oxygen levels to your tissues.” 
In terms of measurable health benefits, researchers maintain that gratitude fosters optimism, which has been shown to positively influence the immune system. Optimism and other positive emotions are also associated with lowered production of the stress hormone cortisol and with reduced risk of chronic disease. A study published in February, 2003, in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology and many others have found that participants who kept weekly gratitude journals exercised more regularly, reported fewer physical symptoms, felt better about their lives as a whole, and were more optimistic about the coming week compared to those who recorded hassles or neutral life events. The same researchers report that while grateful people don't deny or ignore the negative aspects of life, they tend to report positive emotions, life satisfaction, and vitality as well as greater optimism and lower levels of depression and stress than people who are not grateful. 
The health benefits of gratitude, which is really the same thing as love, are an amazing example of just how sturdy the bridge is between the mind, body, and emotions. Research shows that heart-centered feelings associated with gratitude, appreciation, and caring are health enhancing. When you find one thing, however small, to be thankful for and you hold that feeling for as little as 15–20 seconds, many subtle and beneficial physiologic changes take place in your body:
Stress hormone levels of cortisol and norepinephrine decrease, creating a cascade of beneficial metabolic changes such as an enhanced immune system.
Coronary arteries relax, thus increasing the blood supply to your heart.
Heart rhythm becomes more harmonious, which positively affects your mood and all other bodily organs.
Breathing becomes deeper, thus increasing the oxygen level of your tissues.
Other scientific evidence that gratitude improves health comes from research accumulated by Robert A. Emmons, professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis. Emmons found that gratitude makes you healthier, smarter, and more energetic. He also showed that people practicing gratitude daily, such as writing in a gratitude journal, reported higher levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, attentiveness, and energy than those who didn’t.
If all of this happens when you focus for just 15–20 seconds on something that brings you pleasure, joy, or a feeling of gratitude, imagine what would happen to your health if you were able to cultivate thoughts of appreciation on a consistent and regular basis. Cultivating the habit (practice) of gratitude is a very simple way to spread seasonal cheer all year round! Here are a few suggestions to get your started on a lifetime of gratitude: 
Getting Started by Creating Good Habits!
Gratitude Journal - A daily or weekly gratitude journal keeps you focused on the positive aspects of life instead of its frustrations. Simply pausing daily to list a few things you have to be grateful for can enhance your health and happiness. Include people, places and things in your life you enjoy and that bring laughter or other positive emotions to your life. Try being grateful for the struggles and tribulations as well, since we learn so much from adversity and it is a teacher as well.
Share Gratitude - in Person, by Note or Phone – Let others know when you appreciate something about them. There are opportunities at work, home and play to notice a positive aspect of someone else and then share that moment of gratitude with them. This is good for the person receiving the feedback as well as the giver. If the person does not live in close proximity drop them a “thank you” note in the mail, send an email note of gratitude or pick up the phone and take a moment out of your day to share your gratitude with others.
Giving from the Heart – One of the best ways to be grateful for what you have is to volunteer with others who have lost everything! Those at the bottom, who are unsure where the next holiday meal or gifts will come from, know what gratitude is and appreciate every small act of kindness! When you donate time, talent or money to those in need you create for others a safe environment in which they can give gratitude and have faith in the interconnectedness of us all. What you receive is priceless, but it will forever change and create a grateful heart for what you do have in life versus investing time & energy on what you do “not” have!
Grateful Meditation or Prayer – if you need help getting started, you can begin with this prayer of gratitude! I thank You God for most this amazing day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything which is natural which is infinite which is yes (I who have died am alive again today, and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth day of life and love and wings: and of the gay great happening illimitably earth)
how should tasting touching hearing seeing breathing any-lifted from the no of all nothing-human merely being doubt unimaginably You? (now the ears of my ears awake and now the eyes of my eyes are opened) - E. E. Cummings
deZengo Moore is the Health & Wellness Editor, co-Founder of SACREDspace TN, a Humanity Healing Pilot Studio Project, a Yoga & Zumba Instructor and health advocate. Creator of the yoga2GO program, she brings the workout or meditation where you need it to be. Also a stage III breast cancer survivor, Ms. Moore knows the importance of creating change within the food industry and created a campaign series to support “Prevention NOT Treatment.” She believes the profit made from diseases that could be prevented through diet and lifestyle modification, must end.
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