How Gratitude and Mindset Can Improve Your Health

Healing From the Heart: Using Gratitude & Mindset To Improve Our Health

Today’s guest post is written by my friend, Christa Moody, from That Nutrition Blog and I couldn’t be more excited to introduce her to you! On her blog she shares amazing recipes, information on nutrition and her story of how diet is helping her manage her symptoms and overall health. In addition to her blog, you can find her on Facebook and Instagram.

As a teenager I remember feeling like my body was giving up on me.  I had some health issues that nobody else my age seemed to be experiencing, and despite my “healthy” diet (read: low fat, lots of heart-healthy-whole-grains) my symptoms progressed.

After lots of of doctors appointments, emergency room visits, and lab tests that always seemed to come back normal, I was introduced to a naturopathic doctor who suggested that I change my diet.

I really wasn’t thrilled about the idea of giving up my frosted mini-wheats, but eventually living with my symptoms became more uncomfortable than giving up my comfort foods. (Pain is a great motivator!)

My dietary changes produced amazing results. I felt better than I had in years! I thought that I’d found the holy grail of health. If everyone would just eat better, we could eliminate illness!

My new diet worked wonders for me.  Until it didn’t.

After three years of eating an unprocessed paleo-type-diet with great success, I started noticing my health problems slowly creeping back into my life.  I thought that I must have accidentally eaten something I was sensitive to, or developed new food allergies, so I restricted my diet further.

I got worse.

I started digging, researching other healing modalities and consulting with other alternative health professionals. My symptoms continued to flare for two years, until I discovered some lifestyle factors that helped me heal—and they had nothing to do with my diet.

“This time I have it figured out!” I thought. And I did! Until I didn’t. A few years later, despite my restricted diet and new lifestyle changes, my symptoms came back again.

I’ve watched this pattern repeat itself over and over in my life, and in the lives of many others with chronic illness. Just when I think I have my health under control, life takes a turn and proves otherwise.

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I have come to the conclusion that healing comes in layers.

Sometimes we peel back one layer and get great results! Then another layer reveals itself, and we are given the opportunity to grow and learn and improve ourselves until we can unlock that next layer.

In my journey of discovering and peeling back my own layers, I’m surprised by how many of them have more to do with my mind than my physical body.

Like it or not, there is a very strong mental/emotional/spiritual/energetic component to healing.

I’ve spent years looking for answers in my physical body—diet, alignment, sleep habits, sun exposure, physical activity—but my body keeps telling me that there is something deeper going on.

I’m just beginning to understand that loving myself, and feeling like I am worthy of love can be just as powerful as removing inflammatory foods from my diet.

Approaching life with gratitude and a sense of wonder can literally change our immune function and body chemistry in positive ways. Visualization techniques have lead to spontaneous remission from cancer. Our thoughts and emotions have the power to set off an inflammatory flare, or set healing into motion. (1, 2)

Continually bringing the mind back to gratitude creates neural pathways that make us into more positive, grateful, happy people over time. (Thanks, neuroplasticity!)

Having a positive, grateful predisposition is associated with faster recovery from illness, improved immune function, reduced inflammation, better sleep, reduced stress, better hormone balance, and overall vitality and longevity.  (3, 4, 5, 6, 7)

We don’t have to meditate all day to get these benefits either. People have seen benefits from writing down as few as three gratitudes every day.

Healing in Chronic Illness: Our mind and heart's role in coping with chronic illness.

I like to keep a gratitude journal by my bed and write in it before I go to sleep and/or when I wake up—that way I can begin and end my day with a sense of perspective. There are also a few ‘gratitude journal’ apps that offer helpful reminders to write in them daily.

Our gratitudes don’t have to be grandiose or profound.

In the midst of a painful flare, I usually don’t feel very happy and grateful—and that’s okay.  I am allowed to feel sad/frustrated/worn out, and simultaneously be grateful that I have a bed to sleep in, that I have warm running water, and that I have access to the internet, which is full of puppies!

This has been one of the deeper layers of healing for me. It never ceases to amaze me how our physical bodies manifest our thoughts and emotions. Our culture tends to separate those things, but they are intricately connected.

Don’t get me wrong—diet and lifestyle changes are monumentally important to healing, but when you are already doing/eating all the right things and are still digging for answers, a dose of self-love and gratitude can go a long way!

Gratitude isn’t an attitude: It’s a practice. It’s a posture, and a lifestyle.  It’s an aggressive pursuit of joy despite circumstances, and it is powerful medicine for the soul.

Christa Moody: Author of That Nutrition Blog

Christa Moody is a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner and a Certified Massage Therapist. She is passionate about empowering people with the information and inspiration that they need to take charge of their own health. She regularly shares healthy living tips and recipes over at That Nutrition Blog.

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    • Kami says:

      I so agree! It’s been that way for me too. Seeing some improvement in one area only to be surprised with a new issue. It definitely feels discouraging. Such a complicated web, this illness thing!

  1. Brittany W says:

    The idea of gratitude has been popping up everywhere lately around me. I think it’s a sign. I just read The Happiness Dare (highly recommend it) which was discussing taking time to be grateful. It’s such a powerful force, not just for our happiness, but for our health too. While eating right, exercising as we can (which isn’t always much) is great for our body, chronic illness needs us to take care of our mind too. I love this post.

    • Kami says:

      Yes, so true – our mind needs care, too. They are working so hard for us in this life of illness. (Oh and the gratitude posts keep popping up everywhere over here too…)

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