Gratitude is simply defined as the state of being grateful, possibly involving expressing thanks or appreciation for something, someone, or for the gift of life itself. Gratitude involves recognizing things in your life and how they affect you. This can range from positive and negative experiences, material things, or valued people in your life.
Gratitude practices show measurable positive effects of both mental and physical health outcomes when practiced regularly. Physical effects include increasing immune system functioning, helping the body’s effectiveness to fight off illness (1) Practicing gratitude also has the ability to decrease risks of heart failure, (2) Gratitude practices can also ease symptoms of anxiety and depression, due to the body’s inability to feel both feelings of gratitude and anxiety simultaneously, (3) Overall, practicing gratitude fosters positive feelings which contribute to a sense of well-being when done regularly.
Common Gratitude Practices:
- Gratitude Journaling
- Noticing life, taking it all in (i.e. the sun cracking through the clouds)
- Expressing gratitude verbally to someone
- Doing a kind gesture for someone to express appreciation
- Meditating on the positive aspects in life
- Giving thanks through prayer
Gratitude Journaling is a technique that involves writing about things you are grateful for on a scheduled basis. Whether this is a note on your phone, a journal, or sticky note at work, recording something you are grateful for can alter your brain chemistry to focus and look for more sources of gratitude.
Meditation around things you are grateful for helps set an intention of positivity and optimism though the day. This practice can be used in the morning, before bed, and all throughout the day. During this meditation, reflect upon life and all contributing factors which led you to your current state. Reflect on both positive and negative experiences, helping to put all events into context, helping you feel grateful for all things that led you to the current moment.
Prayer can be a helpful tool for generating feelings of gratitude. Regardless of what you’re expressing your gratitude to, prayer is a chance to marvel at life and appreciate existence.
Practicing regular gratitude exercises can create healthy habits for daily benefits for both physical and mental health. Start your gratitude practice today by trying meditation, journaling, or simply noticing the goodness in life.
Please refer to the articles below for more information.