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The Today show in the USA reported, a few days ago, we should be thankful; gratitude is good for our physical health.

Recent studies show a long list of benefits: lower blood pressure, stronger immune system, better sleep, improved heart health and more.

It also said: “when we think about what we appreciate, the calming part of the nervous system is triggered.” We discovered deep breathing also stimulates the same part of our nervous system.

So, we can add being grateful to the list of practices that helps us overcome anxiety and stress-related health issues.

But, thankfulness is more than just being appreciative. We are to express our gratitude to God.

Thanking God for the good in our lives in the middle of difficult circumstances is part of the practice of prayer to overcome anxiety. The Bible verse in Philippians tells us: Do not be anxious…with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Although I think of the act of giving thanks as being for our spiritual benefit, I also believe God has our physical health in mind, too.

Jesus addressed people’s physical and spiritual health. So, we should look at instructions in the Bible as for our total wellbeing, too.

In the study quoted by Today, the author, Paul J. Mills says: “When I am more grateful, it makes me feel more connected with myself and with my environment. It does the opposite of what stress does.” This is wonderful.

Yet, with the same attitude in prayer, we should expect an even greater outcome.

If gratitude gives us a better understanding about ourselves and our surroundings, then being thankful in prayer should bring us into closer relationship with our heavenly Father and a knowledge, perhaps even an appreciation, of the plans he has for us.

Some people seem to be naturally good at looking on the bright side regardless of what they’re going through. I’m not in that category. Maybe one day they’ll find a gene for it, and I’ll discover I don’t have it.

I have to work at focusing on the good in difficult circumstances.

Whatever bad is happening, we should be able to find something small that is good.

We are to be grateful even when life grates.

How do we put this into practice?

I have taken two recommendations from the study.

Practice gratefulness

The study says: “All you have to do is think about being grateful and you’ll become more grateful.”

Practice praying about what is good in your life for and it will become more natural, and perhaps even a habit.

Journal about gratefulness

The study says: “People who keep a gratitude journal have a reduced dietary fat intake — as much as 25 percent lower.” Wow, being grateful is a weigh-loss program, too.

This week, join me in keeping a Giving Thanks to God journal, even and especially in the areas where you are experiencing anxiety. Pray and then ask God to show you his goodness in the middle of the turmoil. Write it down in your journal.

Download your FREE Giving Thanks to God journal sheet!

 

Linking up with Natalie at Salt & Light, Susan at DanceWithJesus, Arabah Joy at Grace & Truth

For more Biblical resources on dealing with anxiety, visit Unmasking the Mess.

 

  • I’m with you Rachel, when my hopes were dashed, I just kept waiting but not focusing on prayers as already answered and on the way. I’m not a bright side kind of girl but I’ve learned to be, because whatever the enemy throws at you, it could have been worse. Prayer breathing works, I know being thankful will, His love never fails.

  • Dear Rachel,
    Today’s message is just down my alley. If I may add as a note of further encouragement allow me. My sister would once call me Baby Grumbles when in my teens..i guess i may have earned that monicker with my constant disgruntles at life.
    Somewhere down the road a sense of uncontainable overwhelming gratitude just took over and i simply cannot help thanking God for sooooo much in my life.
    There have been many situations in my life that ,as from an onlooking third person’s point of view ,they kind of pity me…which i so can’t understand.
    Yes, perhaps because i have spent a greater part of my life beginning from my almost graduating year and on from there in taking care of my father diagnosed with Alzheimers my Mother only for 6 months in her old age mishap and now right into my eldest sister who they say has dementia- like problem .
    Being so thankful to be able to be a part of their lives is my greatest joy. I wouldn’t want less.
    I have a column in a newspaper which I ‘ve titled’ In Appreciation of the Simple pleasures of Life’ particularly talking of the most simplest of experiences in my life that have brought so much joy. I had this urge to fo this as , having yo wake up and read the most depressing of news every day is in deed a drag -me -down. So in the midst of it all, i would like people to read of things that we tend to forget or overlook.
    I really didn’t know this was a form of stress-buster, but I sure am glad that I ‘ve been blessed.
    I loved tour post today. May it be a greater blessing to all you read it.
    Zeena

    • Zeena, I love the title of your column. What an amazing transformation God made in your life. And, now you give glory to Him through being grateful in the most difficult of circumstances and teaching others how to be thankful, too.

  • I’ve been keeping a gratitude journal for several years and can see that it is teaching me to be more focused on thankfulness in my prayer life and in my overall view of the world.

  • Rachel, This is a great reminder. I think it is so true that there are many things that affect our physical health. Thank you for the reminder that thankfulness is one of the things that is good for us!

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