How being Grateful can Improve Mental Health
Updated: Mar 30
"Be Thankful for what you have; you'll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don't have, you will never have enough." - Oprah Winfrey
What do you think of when you hear the month of November? Some think of Fall, Turkeys, and Thanksgiving. Despite the historical meaning of Thanksgiving in America, thanksgiving is defined as meaning the expression of gratitude, especially to God, according to Oxford Languages.
Gratitude is defined as meaning: The quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and return to kindness. Being grateful can be challenging when we are faced with adversity and life's daily challenges.
When anxiety comes into our lives, we often experience feeling nervous, being worrisome, having an imminent sense of panic or doom, and difficulty processing other thoughts that do not involve the present worry.
When depression comes into our lives, the focus is often our feelings of sadness, loss of interest, low self-confidence and self-esteem, and inability to concentrate.
The symptoms listed previously for anxiety and depression make it difficult to think positively and refrain from focusing on life's negative moments and our negative experiences. Practicing gratitude can assist with symptoms of anxiety, depression and overcoming life's curveballs.
How practicing gratitude can help with mental health:
1. According to Harvard health, practicing gratitude can improve your physical health. Studies have shown that practicing gratitude can increase exercise and healthy eating, which gratefully benefits higher energy levels and stronger immune systems.
2. Practicing gratitude has also been proven to improve your social relationships. According to Nationwidechildrens.org, expressing gratitude to our loved ones can significantly impact how we feel about our loved ones and how they appreciate us in return.
3. Practicing gratitude can also improve optimism. Being grateful can improve a more positive outlook on life and life's events.
Ex) "An optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
4. Expressing gratitude can also improve your overall mood. Research has shown that people who regularly express gratitude live a happier life, according to Nationwidechildrens.org.
How to practice gratitude for your mental health:
Keep a gratitude journal: Keep a journal that you write down what you are thankful for at the beginning of each day and at the end of your day. Noticing the positive events in your life can help you have a more positive outlook on life.
Practice mindfulness: It can be easy to focus on the negative experiences of our day. Make time to take 5 minutes out of your day to focus your attention on the positive occurrences that happened in your day through mindfulness.
Connect with family and friends: engaging in positive conversation with family and friends and expressing gratitude can improve your quality of life and social interactions with others to create a more positive outlook on your relationships and strengthen them.
Practice Positive self-talk: Express what you are grateful for regarding yourself. What are you proud of? What did you accomplish today? Tell yourself. Post a sticky note on our mirror thanking your mind and body for its hard work. We have to be grateful for ourselves too :)
All in all, practicing gratitude doesn't just have to be during November but should be every month of the year. Gratitude can improve our lives in so many ways. Gratitude can improve our mental health and also assist with overall happiness.