Willie Nelson once said “When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.” To be thankful for something everyday can reshape your worldview. The simple act of appreciation can transform your life, especially if you are prone to using escapism to avoid anxiety and depression.
Ways to Show Gratitude:
- Jot it Down: Choose a time to log a handful of things you are grateful for that day. This can be something as simple as the color blue or as personal as your good health. Writing it out will help you be present and can lift you up on days that you need more positivity.
- Write a Letter: Tell someone that you appreciate them. Let them know what they mean to you and how they make you feel. When you express thanks to someone, you become more aware of their impact on your life and understand their value. Email, send a letter, or read it out loud over the phone to that person. You can also write yourself a letter of appreciation.
- Admire Nature: Spend some time outside or look out the window. Take a mental inventory of what makes you smile such as the smell of fresh flowers, the buzz of bees, or the taste of the salty ocean. Cherishing the natural world can inspire you to act more consciously in your daily life and thus promote a rewarding feeling of doing your part in society.
- Give Back: Volunteer with an organization or find ways to help your community. Consider roles within nursing homes, animal shelters, homeless shelters, career mentorships, teaching, and places that are important to you. Or, if possible, donate money to an organization or a cause. Helping others has been shown to increase happiness because you become aware of what you have that you may have taken for granted.
- Be Creative: Find entertaining ways to express gratitude. If you consistently write it in your journal, you may become bored or it may feel like a chore. Once you begin to burn out, start a new cycle for showing gratitude. Additionally: include others. For example, you can come up with a game for the household to leave a note of gratitude in a jar per day for a month and whoever has the most notes is rewarded with the prize. Involving others will help keep you accountable and it will motivate others to also practice gratitude.
Benefits of Gratitude
Research has shown that practicing gratitude betters psychological health and overall wellbeing. This is because when people engage in gratitude, their feelings of envy, frustration, and resentment dissipate or are short-lived. So, people who find it hard to cope with emotions can find some relief with practicing gratitude as it helps with managing symptoms of emotional triggers. Plus, gratitude has been linked to better physical health because people may sleep better, are likely to exercise and eat well, and are consistent with check-ups.
Being thankful also opens the door for deeper and stronger relationships as well as new ones. It is human nature to desire to feel seen and appreciated, so saying “thank you” or expressing uniquely tailored words of appreciation to others could result in people sticking around. Additionally, recognizing others (as well as being recognized for our own efforts and achievements) boosts self-esteem and increases wellbeing.
For more information on the benefits of gratitude for your mental health, please contact Trauma and Beyond Center ® at 818-651-0725 or visit us at traumaandbeyondcenter.com.