How Gratitude Can Heal Your Heart (and Your Skin!)

How Gratitude Can Heal Your Heart (and Your Skin!)

By Kate Downes, LAc TCM Practitioner


“Thank you” is a simple phrase. In fact, you probably say it dozens of times each day without really thinking about it. But “thank you” just might be one of the most powerful phrases there is…

Being grateful shows appreciation and builds healthy relationships with both strangers and our closest friends and family. But expressing gratitude is more than just a polite habit; research shows there are countless benefits to practicing gratitude. In fact, it could be the secret to a happier, healthier, and even longer life. 

Read on to learn why gratitude is so important to our mind-body well-being, and learn a few new ways to weave gratitude into your self-care rituals. 

Your Brain on Gratitude: The Mental Health Benefits of a Gratitude Practice 

Gratitude is more than just a feel-good emotion – it's a powerful tool that can transform your mindset and overall mental well-being. Let's explore some of the ways giving thanks can benefit your mental health.

  • Better Moods
    When you regularly express gratitude, your brain releases neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin, often referred to as "feel-good" chemicals. These neurochemicals play a crucial role in regulating your mood and can help you keep a more positive state of mind.

  • Less Stress
    Life is full of challenges – there’s no getting around that. But having a gratitude self-care ritual can help you cope and respond better to life’s obstacles and detours. 

Our brains can only truly focus on one thing at a time, and by intentionally thinking about all the good things in your life, you steal attention away from the negative, irritating, or worrisome thoughts that cause stress. Research also shows that regular gratitude practices significantly decrease levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) and improve well-being.

  • Happier Days
    It’s no surprise that spending more time feeling grateful can also make you feel happier. But now, science proves it. Studies show that those who regularly practice gratitude report higher levels of happiness and life satisfaction.

  • More Peaceful Nights
    Have you ever found yourself wide awake at night, unable to turn off the anxious thoughts floating around your head? Instead of counting sheep, try thinking about a few things you’re grateful for. When you go to bed with positive thoughts and gratitude in your heart, it's easier for your brain to relax and eventually fall asleep.

Gratitude as Self-Care: The Physical Health Benefits of a Gratitude Practice 

Gratitude has powerful mental health benefits. But it isn’t just a mental practice – it can also work wonders for your physical health. Let’s explore how cultivating gratitude can contribute to your overall well-being.

  • Enhanced Skin Health
    Believe it or not, gratitude can give your skin a radiant glow. How? Gratitude reduces the stress that takes a toll on your skin. Less stress, improved sleep, and a boost in self-esteem can have tangible physical benefits that lead to healthier skin. For instance, when you're not constantly stressed, your skin is less likely to break out or become red, inflamed, or dull.

  • Improved Heart Health
    A grateful heart is a healthier heart. Beyond the mental health benefits of gratitude, research shows that gratitude practices can also reduce blood pressure, lower heart rate, and decrease the risk of heart disease.

  • Healthy Digestion
    Struggling with indigestion, bloating, or constipation? Practicing gratitude can help. As we’ve seen, gratitude is a powerful ritual that alleviates stress. Stress is one of the most common underlying causes of poor digestive function; it can slow down your digestive organs, reduce digestive enzymes, and increase inflammation in the gut.

    With gratitude practices, you’ll feel more relaxed which allows your body to digest food more efficiently. As a bonus, better digestion also means clearer skin!

  • Enhanced Energy and Longevity
    When you're grateful, you're more likely to feel energized and motivated. This can encourage you to engage in other self-care rituals and activities such as exercise or gua sha, which further promote energy, healing, and overall well-being.

    Along with better energy and quality of life, some studies suggest that people who practice gratitude may live longer than those who do not. The combination of reduced stress, better heart health, and a positive outlook on life work together to help you enjoy a longer and healthier life.

3 Ways to Infuse Your Daily Life with Gratitude 

The benefits of being thankful for mind and body are clear. Ready to embrace an attitude of gratitude? Here are 3 creative ways to weave gratitude into your everyday rituals. 

  1. 3-Step Gratitude Skincare Ritual
    One of the most popular gratitude practices is to say or write down three things that you’re grateful for daily. Let’s make this powerful practice feel more like self-care by combining it with your daily skincare ritual!

    Each of our Once in a Pink Moon Element Collections offers a comprehensive skincare ritual in just three steps. During each step of the ritual (cleanser, hydrating essence, moisturizer), choose one thing to focus on and be thankful for. You can choose anything, from people in your life to possessions you cherish to qualities about yourself. Afterward, enjoy a few moments of meditation with your corresponding crystal or stone.

    Not sure which collection is best for your skin? Find out with our skin quiz!

  2. Reframe Challenges with Gratitude
    It’s easy to be grateful for the good things in life. But what about being grateful for challenges?

    While it might seem counterintuitive, the truth is that life’s challenges are often a gift. Challenges open our eyes to new opportunities for growth, different paths, and expanded perspectives. When faced with difficulties, express gratitude for the lessons they bring and the strength you discover within yourself.

    Tarot cards are a great way to see the silver lining in setbacks and difficult times, as well as guide us in moving forward. Spend a few minutes meditating on a current challenge you’re facing. Pull a tarot card (or a tarot spread) and learn the meaning. Now, meditate on how that explanation applies to your situation. How can you feel grateful for the new opportunity or mindset shift this challenge gives to you?

  3. Carry a Gratitude Crystal
    Do you struggle to remember to practice gratitude? There are many ways to work this practice into your schedule, such as focusing on what you are grateful for while you sip your morning coffee or tea or setting a “gratitude alarm” on your phone. But one of the simplest ways to remember is to keep a small crystal in your pocket or purse. Each time you touch it, let it serve as a cue to think about something you're grateful for.

    You can personalize this practice by choosing a crystal that resonates with you or one that corresponds to your element or zodiac. Or, consider using a rose quartz crystal, which can help overcome lack-mentality and low self-esteem while helping you envision a brighter future.

    For an even more elevated experience, set an intention of gratitude while applying Over the Moon Perfume Oil (which contains charged rose quartz crystals) to your wrists or behind your ears. Each time you notice the fragrance, you’ll be reminded of your intention to take a moment to be thankful.

“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” —William Arthur Ward

Incorporating gratitude into your daily life doesn't require much, yet the benefits it can bring to your mental health, physical health, and self-esteem are undeniable. No matter which rituals you use to reflect on the positive things in your life, always remember to give thanks to yourself, too, for making the time and effort for self-care. 

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