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The Gratitude Advantage: Harnessing Thankfulness for Pain Relief and Holistic Well-being

Monday, June 3rd 2024 10:00am 8 min read
Dr. Jessica Peatross dr.jess.md @drjessmd

Hospitalist & top functional MD who gets to the root cause. Stealth infection & environmental toxicity keynote speaker.

Often perceived as a simple feeling of thankfulness, gratitude can be a free, powerful tool for pain management, as well as for boosting joy and improving your overall well-being. Robert Emmons, one of the leading scientific experts on gratitude, notes that people who keep gratitude journals are less bothered by everyday aches and pains.

Research shows that gratitude practices help with the perception of pain by directing your focus toward positive emotions as well as through neuroendocrine mechanisms. In addition to appreciating the simple things around you, there are numerous other ways to practice gratitude.

Chronic pain affects about 51.6 million American adults, or about 21% of the U.S. population, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.1 If you’re one of those experiencing pain, it’s wise to seek natural options before resorting to medications like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which come with a host of side effects.

The Virtues of Being Grateful

Gratitude encompasses emotions, virtues, and behaviors. It has two components, according to Emmons. “First, it’s an affirmation of goodness. We affirm that there are good things in the world, gifts and benefits we’ve received,” he writes in an essay published in the Greater Good Magazine.  “The second part of gratitude is figuring out where that goodness comes from.”

Gratitude and Pain Perception

Several studies have delved into the connection between gratitude and pain perception. Emmons noted in the video, “In the domain of bodily functioning, we find that people who are keeping gratitude journals feel better about their health. They’re bothered less by everyday aches and pains.”

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