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The Power of Gratitude for Mental Health

The concept of gratitude is one that many of us are familiar with around Thanksgiving time. When you express gratitude, you express your thankfulness and appreciation. But practicing gratitude is something you can benefit from all year round, not just on one holiday. This is because gratitude can help re-shift your thoughts to more positive, grateful thoughts.



Learning to practice gratitude can help you shift away from many of the negative thoughts associated with poor mental health and positively impact your mental well-being. Here's how:


Gratitude Reduces Stress and Increases Resilience

A daily gratitude practice can help reduce stress by serving as a helpful coping mechanism. Practicing gratitude every day doesn't have to be time-consuming or complicated. For example, write in a simple gratitude journal and identify one or two small things that you appreciate. In a Psychology study, results found that practicing gratitude helped participants reduce depressive symptoms by 35% and resulted in a 10% boost in happiness.


In stressful situations or fearful situations, pausing to practice gratitude can help you ground yourself and re-shift thoughts. It might be helpful to re-shift your thoughts by asking, "what three things am I grateful for right now"?

Stress can also make mental health conditions like anxiety significantly worse. Gratitude teaches us to relish the good experiences and handle adversity better, a skill needed to foster resilience. As you work towards gratitude, you'll help increase resilience and improve your overall mental health.


Gratitude Enhances Overall Life Satisfaction and Happiness

Gratitude helps keep us focused on the positive things in life and shifts thoughts away from negativity. In turn, this can help boost happiness and overall life satisfaction. This psychological impact can leave you with more optimism and enhanced self-esteem. Taking the time to appreciate the smaller things in life can help remind you of what's most important in your life. This might being grateful for the roof over your head or having a comfortable bed to sleep in. Taking these moments of appreciation can help make you happier and focus more on the things you have rather than what you do not.


Gratitude Improves Relationships and Social Connections

Practicing gratitude can not only support you but can also help improve your relationships. Expressing thankfulness shows that you value the people in your social circle which can strengthen your bond with each other. This means you can improve romantic relationships, friendships, and relationships with family members by showing gratitude. Some simple ways to show gratitude are to write a letter to a loved one or share compliments aloud.


Some research suggests that our brains produce more of a hormone called oxytocin when we express gratitude. This hormone produces positive feelings and can help strengthen relationships.


Gratitude Shifts Focus from Negativity to Positivity

One component of gratitude involves focusing on the positives in life. These small things to be thankful for are all around us, often found in the little things we often overlook. Whether you're thankful for the first sip of the cup of coffee in the morning or thankful for a dinner your partner made you, each of these things are things that deserve gratitude.


Keeping a gratitude journal is a great tool for boosting your mental well-being. Set aside a few minutes each day to sit quietly and write in your journal independently. It can be comprised of a variety of thoughts, whether it's something great that happened to you that day or something about yourself that you admire. Your journal is for you and you only and should be used as a safe outlet to express your feelings.


Try These Simply Daily Gratitude Exercises

Incorporating gratitude into your wellness routine is simple and quick. Even fifteen minutes of gratitude a day can have a real impact on your mental health. Here are a few simple exercises to try:

  • Begin each meal with a moment of gratitude

  • Practice self-appreciation

  • Journal in a gratitude journal every day

  • Try guided meditation

  • Deep breathing

  • Count your blessings

  • Say thank you more often

Practicing gratitude may not come naturally to you at first. However, with time and practice, gratitude will become easier to practice every day and soon become more natural.


Cultivating Gratitude in Your Life

You can start bringing more gratitude to your life in various ways. Keeping a daily gratitude journal or expressing your thanks to others can significantly boost your mental health. Practicing gratitude can help you keep stress levels to a minimum, enhance your overall life satisfaction, and improve relationships within your social circle.


Practicing mindfulness techniques go hand-in-hand with gratitude. Learn more about practicing mindfulness and discover more ways to improve your mental health on the ActiveFit+ blog.

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