Updated: Dec 6, 2021
Throughout our lives we are told to be thankful and show gratitude, and to appreciate what we have and those around us. While we know it’s important to be grateful, sometimes it’s hard to be, especially during difficult times.
Actively practicing gratitude can feel like a strange concept, especially when you’re feeling down. However, practicing gratitude is one of the best things you can do for yourself and those around you. Here’s how gratitude can improve your wellbeing and tips for how to practice it in your daily life.
What is Gratitude?
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Gratitude is the feeling of appreciation for something or someone that creates long lasting feelings of positivity. It allows us to recognize the good in our lives and see that sources of goodness are available to us. According to Positive Psychology, gratitude is a selfless act. They state that gratitude’s “acts are done unconditionally, to show to people that they are appreciated.”
By showing those around us that we appreciate them and what they have done, we are able to form new and stronger social bonds. We can successfully connect to those individuals and allow them to connect with us, creating a better understanding of each other. By forming these bonds, we are able to expand and develop our levels of social wellness, improving our emotional, physical, and mental health.
How Practicing Gratitude Affects Our Health
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Practicing gratitude not only benefits our emotional well-being, but also our physical and mental. In 2019, a study was conducted researching the effect of gratitude intervention on women with breast cancer. The study found that with the intervention the women’s cognitive, self-esteem, and feelings of optimism all increased. As the women were reminded daily of the good things in their lives, their mental health improved. Dr. Robert Emmons, the scientific leader on the study of gratitude, found that grateful people are more stress resistant, have a higher sense of self-worth, and are more optimistic.
Gratitude is also great for our physical health. In 2017, researchers found that introducing gratitude intervention through gratitude journaling, helps reduce the risks associated with heart failure. Research has also shown that people who have had access to gratitude interventions sleep better. In a study published by Personality and Individual Differences, researchers found that participants who practiced gratitude felt healthier overall and experienced fewer aches and pains. With all of these great side effects practicing gratitude seems like it could be the best thing for our overall health.
How You Can Practice Gratitude In Your Daily Life
There are many ways you can practice gratitude, here are a few of the ways you can practice it in your day to day life:
Acknowledge And Voice Your Feelings
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By acknowledging your feelings of appreciation and voicing them to the ones you are grateful to, you will show them how much you appreciate them and strengthen your relationship.
Keep A Gratitude Journal
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A gratitude journal is a very common way to practice gratitude. It will remind you of all the things in your life there are to be grateful for and will help you keep track of new things.
Create A Mood Board
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If you are a visual person, create a mood board with pictures of everything that you are grateful for. The images will help remind you to be grateful every day.
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Speaking to a higher power or the universe can assist in generating feelings of gratitude. Voicing your feelings to something bigger than yourself can aid in putting things in perspective and provide you with hope.
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Meditating can be a perfect way to practice gratitude. Through meditation you can check-in with your emotions and become present in the moment. This will allow you to focus on the things in your life that you could be grateful for.
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If you wish to show gratitude to the world or your community, volunteering is a great way to practice gratitude. Giving back to those in need can help you reflect on your circumstances and show you all the things that you can be grateful for.
Hopefully these activities will inspire you to practice gratitude in your day to day life. Whether you give a hug to a friend, serve a meal to someone in need, or make a gratitude board. There is no wrong way to show that you appreciate your life and those around you.
This season, find all of the things in your life to be grateful for with the Jefferson Center’s Colorado Spirit team. We are here for you for all of your mental health needs, offering free and confidential support. We can also help you with counseling tips and strategies to cope successfully and referrals to additional mental health resources. Call us if you need to talk at 720-731-4689.
If you or someone you know is in a crisis, please call us at 303-425-0300 or by calling the crisis line at 844-493-8255. The 24/7 crisis walk-in center and withdrawal management program is open at 4643 Wadsworth Blvd, Wheat Ridge, CO 80033.