The Importance of Self-Care for Mental HealthNovember 8, 2023
What to Do After a Setback in Trauma HealingNovember 21, 2023
Amid the business and busyness of daily life, and in light of the very real challenges we face personally, locally, and globally, the idea of practicing gratitude might feel inconsequential or trivial. Gratitude, however, is a superpower that every person can access, with a potential for profound impacts that create far-reaching ripples.
Gratitude is the practice of appreciating and honoring aspects of our lives – people, situations, or circumstances – positive or otherwise. Experiencing gratitude for the positive aspects of life may feel more accessible and easier to lean into; while appreciating life’s inevitable struggles asks us to zoom out and take in a bigger picture. When we embrace gratitude as an intentional practice it can become a self-care tool with the potential to unlock a range of emotional, psychological, and physical benefits.
Gratitude Reduces Stress and Strengthens Mental Health
Practicing gratitude can act as a buffer against stress that otherwise, over time, can have debilitating effects on our bodies and minds. When we choose to regularly reflect on that for which we are grateful, we are effectively shifting attention from anxiety-prone thoughts to a more present and regulated mental state. Within moments of practicing gratitude, we can find ourselves feeling both more positive and calmer.
Research tells us that gratitude improves mental health and has been linked to reductions in symptoms of depression and anxiety, boosts in self-esteem and increases in happiness. When we engage life with an attitude of gratitude, looking for things about which to be grateful, we effectively train the brain to interrupt its negativity bias and to become more sensitive to the experience of gratitude over time.
Gratitude Enhances Physical Health
When something is good for the mind it tends to have benefits for the body. Research reveals that people who practice gratitude typically engage in healthier behaviors – they exercise more frequently, prioritize regular check-ins with their healthcare providers, and choose healthier diets. A regular gratitude practice also leads to more restorative sleep. Going to sleep with a positive mindset invites contentment and when our minds are content, sleep arrives more easily.
It Improves Relationships to Self and Others
When gratitude is expressed to others, a sense of trust and connection is nurtured. These strong social bonds built and sustained by gratitude are critical to our well-being. Amidst the ups and downs of life, choosing to be open to gratitude strengthens our resilience, reinforcing our confidence in ourselves to persevere in times of struggle.
How can you be intentional about incorporating gratitude into your daily life?
- Begin a Gratitude Practice: Commit daily to writing down or simply recognizing out loud to yourself some of the people, situations, or moments for which you’re grateful. This may range from the smell of your coffee brewing to the comfort of your bed, or from the beauty of the night sky to the kindness of a supportive friend.
- Get Familiar with Mindfulness: With curiosity, make a point of paying attention on purpose to moments throughout your day, engaging each of your senses: notice the flavor of your food, the aromas in the air, the sounds on the street below your office, the feeling of the sun on your skin, the sight of your hands as they move across your keyboard. Savour the present moment with a willingness to experience it as though for the first time. In this way, we invite awareness of meaningful experiences that may otherwise go unnoticed.
- Express Gratitude: Saying thank you to others can create far-reaching ripples with the potential to transform a person’s perspective on their day while also strengthening your relationship.
- Meditate on Gratitude: Take a quiet moment to intentionally focus on a person or circumstance for which you’re thankful and experience the impact of this positive practice on your physiology.
Want to learn more about the relationship between gratitude and your mental health? Check out these resources:
Check out these resources:
If you are looking to connect further or receive support around gratitude or a mental health concern, please Contact Us at 250-718-9291 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Check out these resources:
Written by: Miriam Desjardins, MACP
To book: Click Here!