How Gratitude can Improve Mental Health
What is gratitude?
Gratitude: The quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness. How often do you practice gratitude? In positive psychology, gratitude is associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive, have good experiences, and even improve their health. The first step to practicing gratitude is to take some time out daily or weekly to have time for reflection.
Gratitude can be expressed in many ways. It can be applied to the past, present, and future. You can reflect on your childhood or even the day before and be thankful. You can reflect on the present and show immediate gratitude instead of taking things for granted. You can be hopeful and have an optimistic attitude for the future. Gratitude helps you appreciate what you have instead of searching for the next new thing in hopes it’ll make you happier. Gratitude is a great reminder to focus on what you have versus what you lack. Expressing feelings of appreciation to others and ourselves creates positive emotions and feelings of pleasure and contentment. Don’t focus on the negative, only the positive. It will help increase mood as well as overall well-being.
"Most important, let yourself be happy. Be proud of any small achievement or success, acknowledge your happiness, and be thankful for the moment. Accepting happiness makes us grateful for all that we have and, over time, makes us stronger. Praising our efforts prepares us for the difficulties we may have to manage in the future.”
-Kristen Francis, MD
Tips to improve consistent gratitude?
- Keep a gratitude journal. Make it a habit to take some time (daily or weekly) and reflect on some of the people or things you're grateful for. You can use a notebook, your daily planner, or even sticky notes and write down a few things you are grateful for each day.
- Reflect. If weekly reflection is more your style then pick a time to sit and write about the good in your life. As you write, be specific and remember how you felt when good was happening.
- Meditate. Mindfulness meditation focuses on being in the moment without judgment. You can focus on a word (such as joy) or what you’re grateful for (a pleasant sound). You can listen to guided mediation if you’re not as familiar.
- Find gratitude in your challenges. It can be hard to feel thankful when faced with a stressful situation. Try to take the time to find gratitude and optimism during your difficult times so you can manage them easier.
Here's a 4 day challenge
Consistency is the key! You have to continuously practice gratitude to notice a change in behavior, mental health, and overall well-being. An increase in happiness can make it easier to complete daily tasks and go after goals. Learning to embrace challenges and be grateful for a shift in your life can make all the difference. It starts with your mindset. If you focus on the positive things and people in your life there will be a noticeable change.