Ep. 060 – Gratitude Journal

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Good morning and welcome to Episode 060 of the Train Your Brain Podcast with Dr. Michael Trayford. Every Monday we produce a 30-minute episode. Tuesday through Sunday we produce episodes with five-minute tips. Every episode of the Train Your Brain Podcast features a tip, so you can receive pointers 365 days a year that will help enhance the performance of your brain!

Today Dr. Trayford shares brain training tip 60! There is power in pondering and considering things you are grateful for. You can actually strengthen your brain and enrich your life at the same time: Taking the time to write down things that you are grateful for will exercise your brain and make you an all-around healthier (and happier) person!

The concept of keeping a gratitude journal has really started to be researched extensively. Forbes published an article in November of 2014 that explored the value of keeping a gratitude journal.

Something happens neurologically when we reflect on our choices, relationships and special events in our lives. Actively reflecting starts to hardwire neurological changes in the brain. If you’re constantly focusing on emotions that make you fearful, angry and resentful, they eventually get hardwired into the brain.

Research has found that keeping a gratitude journal can help pull you out of negative patterns, and start you on a course that leads to positive thoughts and actions. Gratitude journals have shown to be even more effective, than simply focusing on having positive thoughts in your day.
Keeping one has many different benefits.

One of the biggest improvements comes with the ability to open up new relationships, or to communicate better in your current relationships. Reflecting and being grateful for the people that help you in life, expands your empathy, and empathy is one of the cornerstones of healthy relationships.

It also improves physical health. We understand pain levels come down when people are grateful. Research has found that people that are stuck in negative emotions, have higher pain scales, than people who practice gratitude and positive thinking on a daily basis. This was published in a journal of 2012 journal of personality and individual differences.

Psychological health is the obvious one. Study after study has found that gratitude and mental well being go hand in hand. Next to exercise it is one of the best treatments for depression.

It also reduces aggression and enhances empathy. We can feel more for others when we start to really reflect on our experiences with them. Most of our gratitude is based on our experiences with others, so we don’t feel angry towards them.

Sleep, has been shown to be very important for brain health. There are studies that have been published, one in the journal of applied psychology, found that people who wrote in a gratitude journal for 15 minutes at night before going to bed experienced better sleep and longer
Self-esteem is also impacted. When you sit down and reflect on what you’ve accomplished and what you’re grateful for, these are researched backed as well.

We start to reduce our social comparisons when we show gratitude. We’re not judging people as much when we’re doing that. With the advent of the Internet and people trying to show each other up. Especially for younger girls as they’re growing up and trying to compete in the world of being a teenager these days. With my 11-year-old daughter, this is something we are always trying to teach her.

Mental strength. PTSD and other conditions are impacted dramatically. There are studies done with veterans that have seen significant benefits from gratitude journaling.

It costs little more than a cheap composition notebook or simply maintaining a special file on your computer’s hard drive.

The journal doesn’t have to be anything fancy. It can just be a simple composition notebook. If you’d like you can even break it down into different categories: personal life, business.
You really just want to look at the different aspects of your life and reflect on them. The results will be amazing.

If you have any concerns regarding the information and applications discussed in this podcast, please consult your physician and a doctor who is experienced in functional neurology. Michael Trayford DC, DACNB is available for consultation by calling (828) 708-5274. Thanks for listening.

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