Gratitude is a powerful emotion that can have a profound impact on your mental health and well-being. It’s a way of acknowledging the good things in life and expressing appreciation for them. When you focus on the positive aspects of your life and express gratitude for them, you can improve your mood, reduce stress, and enhance your overall sense of well-being. This blog will explore how you can use gratitude to improve your mental health.
Start a Gratitude Journal
Writing down things you’re grateful for each day can help you to focus on the positive and reframe your perspective. Set aside a few minutes each day to write down three things you’re grateful for. This can be anything from having a supportive friend or family member to enjoying a delicious meal. It doesn’t matter how big or small the things are, what matters is that you take the time to acknowledge them.
You can use a journal or a gratitude app to record your daily gratitude. Some people prefer to do this first thing in the morning or before bed at night. Others find it helpful to write down things they’re grateful for throughout the day as they happen.
Practicing Mindful Gratitude
Mindfulness is the practice of being present and fully engaging in the moment. For example, mindful gratitude involves taking a moment each day to appreciate the small things in life, such as the warmth of the sun on your skin or the taste of your favorite food. This can help you to be more present and mindful in the moment.
You can practice mindful gratitude by taking a few minutes daily to engage your senses. For example, you might focus on the taste, texture, and aroma of your morning coffee, or take a moment to notice the colors and shapes of the flowers on your daily walk.
Expressing Gratitude to Others
Expressing gratitude to others can strengthen relationships and improve your sense of connectedness. Take time to thank people in your life who have positively impacted you. This could be a friend who listened to you during a tough time, a co-worker who went above and beyond to help you, or a family member who has always been there for you.
You can express gratitude through a handwritten note, a phone call, or in person. Be specific about what you’re grateful for and how the person has made a difference in your life. This can make the other person feel valued and appreciated and boost your mood and sense of well-being.
Finding Gratitude in Challenging Situations
Even in difficult times, there are often things to be grateful for. Focus on the lessons learned or the personal growth you’ve experienced. For example, if you’ve gone through a breakup, you might be grateful for the opportunity to focus on yourself and your personal goals. If you’ve lost a job, you might be grateful for the chance to explore new career paths or spend more time with loved ones.
Finding gratitude in challenging situations can help you to reframe your perspective and focus on the positive. It can also help you to build resilience and cope with stress more effectively.
Cultivating a Gratitude Mindset
Make gratitude a regular practice by incorporating it into your daily routine. For example, start and end each day by reflecting on what you’re grateful for. You can also consider incorporating gratitude into your meditation or mindfulness practice or practicing gratitude during your daily exercise routine.
Research shows that practicing gratitude can have a significant impact on mental health. In fact, one study found that gratitude interventions were associated with reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety (Wood, Froh, & Geraghty, 2010).
The Center for Integrative Psychiatry offers a range of services to support your mental health needs.
- Emmons, R. A., & McCullough, M. E. (2003). Counting blessings versus burdens: An experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life. Journal of personality and social psychology, 84(2), 377–389. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-35188.8.131.527
- Wood, A. M., Froh, J. J., & Geraghty, A. W. (2010). Gratitude and well-being: A review and theoretical integration. Clinical psychology review, 30(7), 890–905. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cpr.2010.03.005
- Wong, Y. J., Owen, J., Gabana, N. T., Brown, J. W., McInnis, S., Toth, P., & Gilman, L. (2018). Does gratitude writing improve the mental health of psychotherapy clients? Evidence from a randomized controlled trial. Psychotherapy research, 28(2), 192–202. https://doi.org/10.1080/10503307.2016.1169332
- Seligman, M. E., Steen, T. A., Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2005). Positive psychology progress: empirical validation of interventions. American psychologist, 60(5), 410–421. https://doi.org/10.1037/0003-066x.60.5.410