Dayspa

NOV 2014

DAYSPA is the business resource for spa & wellness professionals! Each issue covers the latest in skin care, spa treatments, wellness services and management strategies.

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YOUR WELLNESS SPA Mind-Body Health 72 DAYSPA | NOVEMBER 2014 "Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others." —CICERO, ROMAN PHILOSOPHER Gratitude. For many people —in fact, for entire religious systems—it's an integral part of everyday life. For others, it's not something to give much thought to, except maybe on Thanksgiving or when receiving impor- tant good news. Individuals struggling with physical or mental health issues might fi nd themselves far removed from feelings of appreciation. But, regardless of people's situations and attitudes, recent research suggests that thoughts and feelings of gratitude can have a positive effect on health and well-being. Here's some more good news: gratitude can be culti- vated, approached like meditation or yoga as a new habit to be practiced. What's more, the more you do it, the easier it becomes. The study of gratitude is part of a branch of psychol- ogy known as positive psychology. Unlike the practice of conventional psychology, which primarily addresses mental disturbances, positive psychology treats the com- ponents of fi nding and sustaining happiness as equally important parts of the process. The subject's strengths and virtues are identifi ed, and it is by focusing on these strengths that weaknesses are diminished. It's well established that happiness, optimism, belief in one's own well-being and having pleasurable experiences have all been linked to better overall health. Positive psy- chology encompasses three central concerns that relate to happiness: 1) positive emotions, 2) positive individual traits and 3) positive institutions. Experts in the practice urge individuals in pursuit of their own happiness to fo- cus on the virtue of gratitude. BLESSINGS AND BENEFITS Ongoing research at the University of California, Da- vis, has found that grateful people tend to enjoy better health, and with good reason: they take better care of themselves. Surveys have shown that thankful folks see their doctors more regularly, eat more healthful diets and exercise more than others. And that's not all. People who practice gratitude seem better able to handle stress, which we know is linked to heart disease, stroke, digestive and muscular/skeletal problems, a weaker immune system and even cancer. And it's a catch-22: under stress, people tend not to eat properly and not to sleep well, which makes them more susceptible to illness, which in turn causes stress. A University of Utah study compared two groups of law students, one described as "stressed-out", and the other as "optimistic". The optimistic group showed higher numbers of blood cells that protect the immune system. Other studies report positive-thinking patients who have AIDS, or are undergoing surgery, ultimately experiencing better health outcomes. One University of Michigan study found that in the aftermath of 9/11, people with feelings of gratitude were less likely to suf- fer from post-traumatic stress disorder. Saying thank you is not only a sign of good manners—it's also a good way to stay well. By Andrea Renskoff © KNIEL SYNNATZSCHKE/GETTY Thanks for Everything

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