The holidays are often a time when many of us think back on things for which we are grateful. This is the time of year when we usually see heartwarming internet videos of people performing acts of kindness, share their gratitude, and generally help one another. However, gratitude is an important part of your health and is something that can be practiced all year long.
Health Benefits of Gratitude
Sharing or contemplating how thankful you are is surprisingly healthy. Studies show that gratitude affects both physical and mental health in several ways. Here are just a few:
Reducing stress and increasing happiness
Increasing empathy and lowering feelings of aggression
Reducing aches and pains
Improving length and quality of sleep
Creating mental resilience to things like trauma and sudden stress
While the benefits of practicing gratitude are great, it can be hard to get started. A simple command to “feel grateful” might evoke unpleasant feelings that have nothing to do with gratitude. Instead, I have provided a few ideas for you to get started.
How to Practice Gratitude
“Practicing gratitude” is an active, mindful way express and ponder things for which you are thankful. There are many ways to practice gratitude - and none are notably better than any other. Below are just a few methods you can try. Once you find one or two you enjoy, I hope you’ll keep practicing them and reaping the mental and physical benefits gratitude can provide, all year long.
Practicing mindfulness or meditation can help you take a moment out of your day to be kind to yourself and refresh your mind. During this time you can direct your mind toward things for which you are grateful.
As you practice Qigong, Yoga, or Tai Chi, consider things for which you are grateful. You can do this by using a mantra or simply focus your mind upon feelings of gratitude during your exercise.
Gratitude journal or jar
If you enjoy journaling, take some time during an entry to share what you feel thankful for. If journaling isn’t your thing, you can still document moments for which you are grateful to do the following:
Take three slips of paper and write what you’re grateful for.
Place them in a jar.
Repeat each day.
When you’re feeling down or the jar is full, take out a few pieces of paper and read them.
While many of us practice gratitude privately by thinking over things for which we feel grateful, sharing that gratitude can be particularly rewarding. Do this by consciously sharing your thanks. Some ideas for this include:
Performing acts of kindness
Saying “thank you”
Making a meal with a friend or family member
Taking a conversation off of the internet and into a real-life meetup
Tell a family member or friend that you love them
Give someone a hug or high-five
Write “thank you” cards
Think of three things for which you are grateful before you go to bed
There are so many ways to nurture gratitude. I hope you find methods that bring you joy and practice them throughout the holidays and beyond.
If you are looking for even more effective methods to de-stress and improve your health, let me know! I’m happy to help.