[Image description: An illustration shows a notebook with the text "I'm grateful for... family and sunshine."]
What have you heard about gratitude? In the last few years, there have been several studies about the effects of gratitude on mental health — and the results are encouraging. Practicing gratefulness may help reduce stress and improve well-being. In this article, we’ll explore gratitude and how you can incorporate it into your life.
Gratitude is all about appreciation. To practice gratitude, you might think about the good things that have happened in your life, big or small. Whether it be a walk with a friend, a sunny day, or simply a cup of coffee, take a few minutes to pause and appreciate an experience. Try to focus on the positive feelings that come to mind.
You can write the experience down in a journal, share it with someone, or simply think about it — whatever you are most comfortable with. If this practice resonates with you, try and express what you’re grateful for daily and see if you notice any changes in how you feel.
Build a practice
Creating a habit of gratefulness can help you more easily notice the positive aspects of your life, even on bad days! This can boost your feelings of happiness and optimism.
Try to remember that practicing gratitude doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming. You might think about three things you’re grateful for first thing in the morning or right before you fall asleep. The experiences can be from the past, the present, or even related to the future. Over time, you might begin to think about what you’re grateful at many moments throughout the day.
While giving thanks sounds simple, you might be surprised by the results! If you’d like to incorporate a gratitude practice into your life, here are some tips to consider:
- Write in a journal. Writing can help you reflect on the positive aspects of your day.
- Practice mindfulness. Paying attention to your thoughts and feelings in the present moment may help you notice details you might have otherwise overlooked.
- Send a thank you card. Expressing your appreciation for someone can allow you to reflect on the impact they’ve had in your life — a great way to practice gratitude!
- Share with a friend. Talking about what you’re grateful for can help you reap the benefits of gratitude as you focus and elaborate on positive experiences.
- Volunteer or do a favor for someone. Helping a person in need or doing a random act of kindness can benefit both of you.
Practicing gratitude can help you ground yourself in positivity and balance out the negative thoughts that are unavoidable in life. If you find yourself stuck in a negative mindset, or if your emotions are impacting your daily life, don’t hesitate to reach out for support.