Thanksgiving is thought of as the designated time when we all gather around and share what we're thankful for. However, those with consistently high levels of life satisfaction know that gratitude shouldn't be a once-a-year event. It's a year-round practice that can do wonders for our mental well-being, especially when life swerves in challenging or painful directions.
Are you experiencing life changes that make practicing gratitude difficult? Are you uncertain what gratitude is or what practicing gratitude can look like? Now is the perfect time to visit (or revisit) this topic and see what gratitude can offer you and how to incorporate it, even when times are especially tough.
What Is Gratitude, Anyway?
Think of gratitude as an attitude or perspective. It's about recognizing and appreciating the good things in our lives, big or small. Gratitude is that positive feeling when acknowledging something pleasant, good, or meaningful. It might be something like a friend's kindness, a landscape's beauty, the warm, cozy feeling of being wrapped in a blanket, or simply the fact that you made it through another day.
The Impact of Gratitude on Happiness
You might be wondering, "How can gratitude make me happier? Why is it worth developing?" Here's how gratitude benefits mental well-being:
- Focus Shift: Gratitude helps us zoom out from our problems and focus on the positives in our lives. This perspective shift can help us manageanxiety anddepression better. Do you find yourself stuck in self-destructive thought patterns like, "Nothing is going right" or "Why do things never work out for me?" Practicing gratitude can help you break that cycle and focus on all the things that are working that may not have been as noticeable before.
- Resilience Booster: Gratitude isn't just about being happy when times are good. It's about finding the good when times aren't so great. This attitude can help us bounce back from stress and adversity; that quality is known as resilience. Why does resilience matter?Studies indicate that resilience is associated with better life satisfaction.
- Relationship Builder: Saying "thank you" more often can improve our relationships. It shows we appreciate others and can help foster a stronger sense of connection. Gratitude can also help us see the good in others and build positive relationships, which are crucial to our sense of well-being.
Will Gratitude Cure My Depression?
Does practicing gratitude negate pain or erase a mental health struggle? To put it bluntly, no. Gratitude is not a magic potion; it is an attitude that can take time to cultivate, and you can be in pain yet feel grateful for what you have at the same time.
Practicing gratitude while in pain can be highly beneficial. Gratitude can help keep you afloat when negative thoughts try to drag you down.
Also, remember that practicing gratitude doesn't mean ignoring your problems or pretending everything is perfect. You can still have "bad days," which is normal. That said, practicing gratitude will help you rise when circumstances kick you down and enrich how you feel about the world around you.
Making Gratitude Your Friend During Tough Times
We know what you're thinking: "Easier said than done," right? Practicing gratitude during challenging times can feel like looking for a needle in a haystack. But trust us, it's possible, and here's how you can begin practicing:
- Mindful Moments: Make mindfulness part of your routine. You can do this during a dedicated meditation time or a brief, calm moment during your day. During these moments, focus on what you're grateful for. In terms of physical sensation, feeling gratitude can give you a "warm" or "full" sensation in your chest. How does it feel for you when you think about the things or people you are grateful for? Explore that.
- Gratitude Journal: Jot down three things you're grateful for each day. They could be as simple as a hot cup of coffee or a text from a friend.
- Say Thanks More Often: Let the people in your life know you appreciate them. A heartfelt "thank you" can mean the world to someone and reinforce your feelings of gratitude.
- Gratitude Reminders: Put sticky notes around your place or set reminders on your phone to take a gratitude break. It's all about making gratitude part of your everyday life.
It's crucial to remember that for many, gratitude must be practiced routinely to be maintained. Like a workout routine, regularly exercising your "gratitude muscles" will strengthen them over time.
Compassionate Treatment Starts Here
Here at Red Top Wellness Center in Georgia, we're big fans of gratitude, and we're here to support you on your journey towards better mental health.Reach out to us anytime, and let's explore how we can address your mental health concerns.