The Health and Wellness Benefits of Gratitude: Plus Ten Ways to Start Your Own Gratitude Practice!
Gratitude is strongly associated with greater happiness. It helps people feel more positive emotions and relish good experiences, but gratitude doesn’t always have to come from joyous occasions. Sometimes life’s unkindness can turn into gratitude later. For example, rejection can be a stroke of good luck when you realize you’re better off; however, appreciating the bad can be challenging. Without a consistent gratitude practice, life’s good moments can seem hollow, and the tough moments can be even more difficult. Thankfully, with practice, gratitude is a skill that you can cultivate.
What is Gratitude, and Why is It Important?
The word gratitude derives from the Latin word gratia, which means grace, graciousness, or gratefulness (depending on the context). In some ways, gratitude encompasses all of these meanings. Simply put, gratitude is an appreciation for what you receive, tangible or intangible, direct or indirect.
A regular gratitude practice is strongly associated with feelings of contentment and peace. Some of the benefits of gratitude include:
Experience more positive emotions,
Create more awareness in everyday life
Regularly practicing gratitude doesn’t dissolve all of life’s worries, but it can relieve some pressure. In addition, some studies have suggested that a regular gratitude practice can aid physical aches and pains by reducing bodily inflammation, decreasing fatigue, and improving sleep quality.
10 Ways to Help You Practice Gratitude
Like any habit, regularly practicing gratitude can be tough. That’s why we’ve compiled ten simple ways to help you start (and keep!) your gratitude practice:
Observe: Even the smallest of things or moments might prompt gratitude. These small things can build a safety net of well-being over time, so pay attention!
Keep a gratitude journal: You can sharpen your observational skills by writing down your daily observations of gratitude. You can journal at the beginning of the day to remind yourself of all the positive things in your life (almost like putting on protective gear before going out to ride life’s roller coaster), or you can journal at the end of the day to help you reflect and find peace.
Say “thank you” and mean it: Being more aware means you’ll experience others’ kindness to you in a whole new way. Make sure to let them know as often as you can.
Reflect on your growth: You can easily get bogged down in ruminating on past mistakes and failures. Instead, start reminding yourself how much you’ve grown from those experiences.
Create visual reminders for yourself: Because the two primary obstacles to gratefulness are forgetfulness and a lack of awareness, visual reminders can serve as cues to trigger thoughts of gratitude. Use a sticky note on your fridge to remind yourself to be grateful today.
Commit to an act of daily kindness for someone, or something, outside of yourself: Hold the door open for someone, pick up someone’s coffee tab, volunteer at an animal shelter, or even help a turtle get to the other side of the road unharmed- these can all be ways to act kindly to others.
Avoid gossiping and talking badly about others: Instead, confront relationships at work and in your life directly (but respectfully) as much as you can.
Practice mindfulness or meditation: Both practices help you live in the present.
Discuss your moments of gratitude: Family meal time is a great space to share stories of gratitude and encourage others to do the same.
Engage in Positive Social Media: If you have any social media accounts, try to engage in content that helps you feel relaxed and inspired instead of critical or judgemental of yourself.
Although the list above offers excellent ways to practice gratitude, it’s essential to find what works best for you so you can stick with it. The bottom line, whatever helps you slow down and appreciate life a little deeper, is a great start for a gratitude practice!
With November being National Gratitude Month, St. Andrew’s Family Fitness Plus invites you to participate in the FREE 7-day Gratitude Starter Journal! to help start a consistent gratitude practice, please visit our website to download your Gratitude Journal today!