Role of Gratitude on Health
I am by nature a glass-half-full kind of person. Like countless others, I have had my share of heartbreak and disappointment. During those times it was a challenge to be thankful for my life. But deep down, I always believed it would get better.
Faith and gratitude
Growing up in a home that went to church regularly, I was taught from a young age to be thankful for what I had. We prayed over our food at mealtimes. At bedtime, my prayers included giving thanks for the blessings of my life.
I am glad I have a firm foundation of being grateful in spite of adversity. Little did I know how much I would need a positive attitude and a habit of gratitude in my golden years.
The golden years
My friends say getting older is not for sissies. You need a lot of determination to handle deteriorating health.
At age 65 I had cataracts removed on the recommendation of my optometrist. A few months later I had YAG laser surgery to remove a secondary cataract. I complained of dry eyes to my optometrist. He assured me the dryness would get better.
During a routine checkup, my optometrist told me I had early dry macular degeneration. My vision was still good for another year. At my next annual exam I complained of blurring. I expected it was a progression of macular degeneration. Wrong!
Remember the dryness I was experiencing after cataract surgery? My optometrist diagnosed me with chronic dry eye syndrome (CDE). My new normal now includes various eye drops, warm moist heat twice daily, a humidifier, and fish oil supplements.
As the golden years sped up, I developed osteoporosis, depression, and panic disorder.
Back to my roots
Receiving treatment for osteoporosis, depression, and panic disorder has been helpful. Medicine can only do so much. I turned my thoughts to fostering an attitude of gratitude.
When I feel discouraged about my situation, I focus on those things in my life I am thankful for. No matter how rough the day, my blessings far outweigh the negatives.
Practicing an attitude of gratitude can play an important role for those with treatment resistant CDE.1 Fortunately, my treatment plan is effective most days.
A recent study from 2020 showed that fostering an attitude of gratitude reduces aches and pain common with chronic disease.2
Sleep is vital for my good health. Anxious thoughts can rob me of sleep and worsen my health outcomes. Thinking back over my day at bedtime with gratitude can relieve stress and lead to bettering my sleep habits.
Learning to be thankful
Not everyone is born an optimist but there are steps one can take to foster an attitude of gratitude. Making a list of things you are thankful for daily can help. Over time this practice can lead to a more optimistic view on life.
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