AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) —Thanksgiving is upon us and being grateful becomes a focus for many families. We as parents love to see our kids express gratitude. However expressing gratitude is more than morals and manners, it actually has an effect on our brains. Studies have shown that gratitude carries significant benefits for our mental and physical health. Having a better understanding of what happens in the brain when we feel grateful helps us to better realize the importance of fostering such a powerful emotion.

· 3 ways gratitude benefits our minds:

o It can help relieve stress and pain. The brain regions associated with gratitude are part of the neural networks that light up when we socialize and experience pleasure. The regions are also connected to the brain that controls emotion regulation (heart rate, arousal levels), stress relief and pain reduction. It helps create a more relaxed body state allowing lowered stress to wash over us.

o It can improve health over time. This area of the brain is also linked to the brain’s network that activates during close interpersonal touch and relief from pain. It is associated with social bonding and stress relief which explains how grateful feelings leads to health benefits over time.

o It can help those with depression. Evidence shows practicing gratitude improves mood, alleviating depressed feelings in individuals. A mental practice of gratitude may help change and re-wire the brain.

There has been many things discussed and written about gratitude and how it helps a person’s emotional and mental state. Now we are beginning to see

scientific evidence that this is a physiological phenomenon. So, teach your kids about gratitude; what it is, how to express it and how to act it out. Not only is it good for humanity but also their health.