Over the next few weeks, American families will gather around beautiful and inviting tables to count their blessings and usher in the season of giving. As you prepare your 2017 celebrations, be sure to build in ample time to reflect on all the wonder life has to offer. Why? Because science has shown that taking time to give thanks can be a gift you give yourself.

World-renowned gratitude expert and U.C Davis psychology professor Robert Emmons has found that giving thanks can bestow a variety of benefits on people of all ages, including children. Emmons and his colleagues conducted a series of studies in which they encouraged more than 1,000 people ages 8 to 80 to keep daily gratitude journals for as little as three weeks. The many benefits these experiments revealed have since been sorted into three categories: physical, psychological, and social. Among the findings:

  • Participants exercised more, slept better, had stronger immune systems and lower blood pressure;
  • They reported higher levels of positive emotions — including optimism and happiness – and experienced more joy and pleasure;
  • And they were more helpful, compassionate, and outgoing, and reported feeling less lonely and more forgiving.

Imagine the possibilities if all Americans jumped on the gratitude train? This Thanksgiving, consider treating the holiday as an opportunity to kick off both a season of giving and a season of gratitude. The benefits can last a lifetime.

For tips from Robert Emmons on incorporating gratitude into everyday moments, check out this article.

And for another gift to give to yourself and your loved ones, try out a low-carb option for delicious stuffing.

By:  Carol Swanson

Carol is a health and wellness writer.

Carol can be reached at cegoodswan@gmail.com