Being grateful does more for your mental health than previously believed. Your gratitude and mental health go hand in hand. Showing gratitude for the people and the things within your life can improve your mental health in leaps and bounds and reduce stress.
We all tend to focus on the negatives in our lives when it is the positives we should be focusing on for the betterment of our mental health. People with mental health issues are more prone to looking on the darker side of life when the brighter image of thankfulness needs to be the centre of attention.
Gratitude and mental health, when combined, are the serious foes of negativity, and with practice, it will enhance your life and make you a more positive person.
What Does Science Have to Say About Gratitude and Mental Health
There have been numerous studies about the act of being gracious, and I would like to point you to a few which are worthwhile reading once you get past all the scientific language.
A study on Iranian soldiers who practised gratitude concluded:
that gratitude not only has direct effects on quality of life, but also has indirect effects through perceived stress and mental health.Science Direct
In another study of 65 mental health professionals who practised gratitude, the results showed:
dispositional gratitude predicted personal accomplishment after controlling for demographic/job contextual variables but not after controlling for hope.Journal of Mental Health Counselling
It was also noted those who did not practice gratitude accomplished less and were likely to face burnout within their job. This goes to highlight the importance of gratitude and mental health.
Ways to Practice Gratitude
You may already practice gratitude as I do through my faith, but you don’t need to ascribe to religion to benefit from gratitude.
Here are some ways of how you can be thankful, and they are straightforward to understand and achieve, although it does take practice to remember to do them. But once you have got the hang of it, you will begin to see improvements within your mental health. It is not an instant fix, but it works on a holistic level to improve your mental wellbeing.
This is my personal favourite mainly because I love paper and notebooks. But a gratitude journal will help you towards achieving a thankful state of mind.
Every morning and evening, write down all that you are grateful for, and you can begin with simple items such as the roof over your head to the food in your belly. Once you are more practised at journalling, you can move onto longer gratitudes such as “I am thankful for the breeze which blew on my skin today and kept me cool from the rays of the sun.”
The more effort you put into your gratitude journal, the more you will get out of it.
Your gratitude and mental health can begin with an ordinary jar such as an old mason jar or a cookie jar. Every time you think of something you are grateful for, write it on a slip of paper and place it into the jar. Once the jar is filled up, read through all the items you were grateful for in the past and see what a glorious life you are leading right now.
Once again, if you start with the easy things such as “I am grateful for the breath in my lungs.” You will soon find your jar filling up with numerous thankful scraps of paper. Showing you that your life is more awesome than what you had previously believed.
Giving Thanks to a Higher Power
I’m a Christian, so I always give thanks to God and Jesus, but you don’t have to ascribe religion to give thanks to a higher power. You can walk around your home and call out all the things you are grateful for.
Your gratitude and mental health are intertwined; the less you are thankful for, the more likely you will be affected by stress. Calling out to a higher power to give thanks for all the good things in your life will create a more positive environment for your mind to dwell in.
The Quiet Gratitude
Maybe you are not one for being vocal; this is OK too; you can still give thanks to all the good things in your life by quietly meditating on them. You might want to play some soothing sounds in the background while you sit quietly and actively remember all the little things in your life which are going well.
This one also works well with the journal; write down everything you are grateful for, then look at each one and contemplate how fortunate you are to have such a positive thing or person within your life.
I hope these ideas will help you in attaining positive thoughts about your life. Practice them every day, morning and evening or in the case of the jar method, as and when you think of them throughout the day. Gratitude and mental health improve over time, so don’t rush any of it; consider it a special time of the day for yourself and pencil it into your diary.
Peace & Blessings