The Many Benefits of Practicing Gratitude
With the holidays right around the corner, you might be getting ready for parties, visits from loved ones and similar fanfare. Yet, for some, the holiday season serves as a catalyst for feelings of depression, isolation and loneliness. Regardless of whether you approach this time of year with anticipation or trepidation, you may find that you enjoy the holiday season more and maintain higher spirits throughout it if you learn to practice gratitude.
Health Benefits of Expressing & Practicing Gratitude
Practicing gratitude in your day-to-day life can lead to numerous health benefits. For starters, studies show that those who practice gratitude not only stay asleep longer than their peers, but also experience higher-quality sleep when their heads hit the pillow. Research also suggests that practicing gratitude can help lower your risk of heart disease.
Reflecting on what you are grateful for also plays a role in helping eliminate or reduce stress and depression in your life. Expressing gratitude for the things and people you value helps you better-manage adversity and learn to keep your negative feelings and emotions at bay. Studies show that increased feelings of gratitude also often coincide with increased social support, which offers psychological benefits of its own.
Gratitude and the Holiday Season
Too many people spend the holiday season stressing about finding the perfect gift or hosting the perfect party. However, by showing a thankful appreciation for the positive aspects of your life, you can help eliminate these common anxieties and enhance your own happiness.
Research has consistently shown that practicing gratitude paves the way for you to embrace your positive emotions, revel in your past positive experiences, enhance your physical and mental health, and create and maintain stronger relationships.
So, how might you make practicing gratitude part of your daily life, not only around the holidays, but year-round?
By counting your blessings
Do you have healthy, happy children or siblings with whom you share strong relationships? How about a beloved pet or an inherent talent that allows you to make a living doing what you love? Sometimes, taking notes about the things you feel most grateful for is all it takes to shift your mindset. And the things you take the time to appreciate don’t have to be major – sometimes, reflecting on how lucky you are to see a sunset or a good movie can make the same positive impact.
By keeping a gratitude journal
A gratitude journal gives you a place where you can recognize and reflect upon the things you appreciate on a regular basis. Try taking a few moments daily or once or twice a week to jot down a few things that make you happy, regardless of how trivial they may seem. Keeping a gratitude journal helps you see the glass half-full, and it also gives you something you can reflect upon if feelings of stress or sadness start to creep back in.
By keeping a gratitude jar
A gratitude jar is like a gratitude journal for the entire family. Instead of recording what you are thankful for in journal form, jot down one thing at a time and place it into a jar located somewhere central in your home. Then, during dinner or other family time, pull some slips of paper out of the jar and share them with one another. It might surprise you to hear what your loved ones value most.
Ultimately, practicing gratitude helps you stimulate mood-boosting chemicals, reflect on what matters most and avoid taking the positive things in your life for granted. Spending just a few minutes each day practicing gratitude is enough to enhance your physical and mental health, improve your interpersonal relationships and boost your overall sense of happiness and well-being.