Gratitude is, in essence, being grateful and thankful for all that we have in our lives, and focusing on those good aspects, rather than what we do not have or think that we need to have.
While we’ve touched on gratitude briefly in our Healthy Thinking blog, it can be defined as “the appreciation of what is valuable and meaningful to oneself and represents a general state of thankfulness and/or appreciation.”
Recent research and psychological studies have shown the importance and benefits of practicing gratitude, particularly for people struggling with anxiety or depression. Itcan help your mental and physical health by reducing your anger, boosting your self-esteem, and giving you feelings of happiness. In fact, one study discovered that in a group of seniors, a gratitude intervention was successful in increasing their mental resilience.
But how exactly do you “practice gratitude”? We have listed some practical exercises you can try to integrate into your daily routine to help in your journey of feeling thankful.
Write it down
At the end of each day, write down a list of 3-5 things you are grateful for. This can be as simple as things that happened in your day. Such as receiving a phone call from a friend or being able to spend some time in the sun. You can use a gratitude daily journal or just write down what you are thankful for on a piece of paper.
Share your gratitude
When was the last time you told your friends you appreciated them or went and thanked a waiter at a restaurant for their great service? By sharing and showing your gratitude, you can improve your happiness by not only recognising you are grateful of something, but also because it will make that person feel thankful for the recognition. Showing your gratitude does not have to be done in person either, you could write a thank-you note or even leave a review online for a business.
Think outside the box
Gratitude does not have to be represented in a certain form; you can be creative! For instance, you could start a visual ‘gratitude’ board of things you are thankful for in your life to keep in your house and stare at each day. You also might like to show a random act of kindness, such as baking a cake for a neighbour or a friend or paying for a coffee for someone else at your local coffee shop.
Enjoy practicing your new daily exercises and good luck on your gratitude journey!