Gratitude From the Heart: The Surprising Benefits of a Simple Thank You

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You know that good feeling you get from generosity, from making someone else feel happy and valued? The sense of well-being that comes from giving a gift or sharing a kind word not only elevates your mind and spirit — it can nourish your body.

Plenty of studies have found that giving to others, volunteering or otherwise helping someone can boost our health. One potential explanation is that it can help decrease our long-term stress, which can contribute to high blood pressure and other health problems.

March 30 is National Doctors’ Day and what better way to celebrate the ways they keep us healthy than with a mood-boosting thank you note. Your doctor will love the feeling they get knowing they’ve helped you, and you share the benefits.

AdventHealth Foundation Central Florida is encouraging patients and family members to write a thank you note to anyone who helped you or a loved one, including a doctor, nurse, therapist or other caregiver.

By helping others, we help ourselves.

Giving From the Heart

A 2013 study, published in JAMA Pediatrics, evaluated the health of 10th grade students who volunteered weekly and compared them to students who didn’t volunteer.

The high schoolers who volunteered had lower cholesterol levels and a lower body mass index. Researchers also tracked students who increased the most in empathetic behavior and decreased in negative mood.

The feel-good hormones released when you experience joy, happiness and comfort can help reduce stress, lower blood pressure and promote blood flow. The students who volunteered showed the biggest decreases in heart disease risk over time.

In other words, the more of themselves they gave, the more they received.

Building Bonds

Much of the reason giving feels so good is that it fulfills a basic need - forging a connection with others. AdventHealth’s CREATION Life philosophy teaches that strengthening relationships contributes to our well-being.

To better understand the connection between relationships and health, researchers measured blood pressures of people during different social interactions. They found that blood pressure tends to decrease significantly when spending quality time with friends, family and community members. The cause of this healthy (and surprising) benefit is a simple one – emotional support.

How Writing a Thank You Note Improves Your Health

The simple act of writing a thank you note can help reconnect your relationships and even benefit your health. Recent research says that healthy college students who spend 20 minutes writing notes of gratitude to friends and family members will experience drops in cholesterol levels compared to groups who write about random topics. A note saying how much someone means to you will make their day and improve your health.

Giving affects your mind and spirit, but now that you know about how it nurtures your body, too, here’s how to take the next step.

All you need to know is your caregiver’s name and the department they worked in. Then, visit our website to share your thank you message. It’s really that simple, but even small gestures can generate big results.

Other Ways to Give Back

There are countless ways to show someone you care and giving back at AdventHealth can take many different forms. Here are other ways you can show your appreciation and feel purpose, feel generous and feel whole:

  1. If you’re looking for other ways to thank your caregivers at AdventHealth, donating to the department that helped you or your loved one, like cancer care or heart care, is one way to demonstrate your gratefulness. You can support other areas of AdventHealth with an online donation, here.
  2. AdventHealth Foundation Central Florida also makes it easy to create a meaningful fundraiser that provides hope to patients. Just about any gathering — including a wedding, sporting event or birthday — can be turned into a fundraiser. After you organize your fundraising page, spread the news about your cause and encourage your family and friends to join in.
  3. Attend a community event organized by like-minded Central Florida members in support of a great cause. With 5ks, dances, golf tournaments and restaurant give backs, there are plenty of options for you and your loved ones to get involved and give back.
  4. If you or your business are looking to sponsor an event, you can become an event sponsor to provide hope and healing to patients at AdventHealth.
  5. Volunteering, at AdventHealthor at AdventHealth for Children, is another way to give of yourself while receiving something in return. Whether you’re into pet therapy, arts or caring for our littlest patients, there’s a volunteer opportunity that is a perfect fit for you.

And, remember, generosity is contagious. One kind act has a ripple effect, leading others to behave generously toward people in their own lives.

As 2 Corinthians 9:7 states, “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

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