It is November, the time of the year when we focus on shoveling mounds of turkey, stuffing, and pie into our mouths but it is about more than that— gratitude. In fact, finding things to be thankful for every day—not just in November—can do wonders for our mood and our overall health, science says so.
Practicing gratitude helps to shift our thoughts from the negative to the positive. It forces us to change gears in our thinking, making us feel better overall. It can be so easy to focus on the bad things that happened in our day and forget about all the good. But by making an effort to recognize the good things in our lives, we can change our moods, relationships, and even our health.
Journaling Our Gratitude
At Rooted & Rising, we frequently encourage clients to use gratitude journals to help their brains make the shift. Every day we encourage you to write down one thing, or more, that you are grateful for. It can be the smallest victory or the biggest challenge you have overcome. It doesn’t have to be earth-shattering. Some entries may include, “I made it work on time,” “My husband made me coffee,” “My hair looks great,” “My children are healthy,” “I feel good,” etc.
So much of the time we fall into the realm of feeling like a victim of the day, even if the bad was only a small portion of the day. Maybe you started the day with an argument with your children or spouse and you spent the whole day focused on it. Or maybe you spilled coffee on your shirt and you were late for work, now the “whole day is ruined.” But is it? Practicing gratitude is about noticing all the other good things that happened that day — your child hugged you as they left for school, you still have a job, you found time to grab another cup of coffee, etc. There is always something to be thankful for, you just have to look for it.
Gratitude Can Make a Real Difference in Our Lives
Showing gratitude to others by saying “thank you,” or “I greatly appreciate it” not only makes the other person feel good but can also open the doors to forming new relationships. People who are appreciative and who recognize the sacrifices or efforts of others come across as kind, respectful individuals. It is why after a job interview, it is recommended to send a thank you note.
Regularly recognizing the things in your life you are grateful for, gives you an appreciation for your health, your body, and your life as a whole. People who practice gratitude have fewer aches and pains and take better care of themselves, according to a 2012 study published in Psychology Today.
Gratitude Reduces Negative Emotions
Gratitude reduces negative emotions like envy, frustration, and regret. People who are thankful for the things they have in their lives and the challenges they have faced and overcome, tend to be happier and experience fewer depressive symptoms. Those who practice gratitude often sleep better and have greater self-confidence. If you feel good about who you are, and aren’t spending so much time thinking about the bad things in your life, you are going to feel better.
Regular gratitude practice has also been shown to increase empathy and reduce aggression. The powerful shift that occurs in us when we start to notice and appreciate all the little good things that are happening every day, all around us, fosters resilience. Some studies have shown that it can reduce symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and help trauma victims to heal.
Gratitude isn’t a cure-all, but it can help to improve mental health and foster internal healing. If you are struggling with how to cope with events in your life or are feeling overwhelmed, lost, sad, or alone, consider seeking the help of a counselor or therapist. They can help give you the tools to fit your life.
Ready to begin counseling in PA?
The professionally trained and licensed counselors at Rooted & Rising Therapy in Bridgeville have openings. Our practice specializes in treating individuals through years of experience, we’re confident that no problem is too great to overcome. Through therapy, there is always a way to address the issues you face and learn coping strategies to help you both right now and in the future. Just call our office at (412) 228-8489 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to get started to feeling better today. We are here for you.