Cultivating an attitude of gratitude can boost your mood and health, study finds

Even if Thanksgiving looks and feels different this year, one tradition could still come in handy: taking a moment to name one thing you're thankful for. Giving thanks doesn't just make you feel good, it also helps your heart.

Dozens of studies look at the health benefits of being grateful, and one researcher from the University of California San Diego School of Medicine finds it fends off depression, stress and anxiety - which can decrease the risk of heart disease.

He studied heart patients and had half of them write about things they were grateful for in a journal. Those who wrote in journals had reduced inflammation and their heart rhythm improved.

So what can you do to cultivate an attitude of gratitude?

Every day before you go to sleep, write down 3-5 things you're thankful for. Some doctors say it may even help you get better sleep.

Another way to show thanks is to write it down on a thank you note and mail it to your friend or loved one. 

And don't forget the people you live with, just a simple, "I see how hard you're working, thank you," goes a long way. 

The bottom line is to look for gratitude as you go through your day. It can be as simple as a long, hot shower in the morning or eating a really good sandwich. Make a mental checklist as you search for things to be grateful for.

When we express gratitude, our brain releases dopamine and serotonin — two hormones that make us feel lighter and happier inside.