“Gratitude turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity...it makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”
More people than ever are struggling with mental health issues. Between increased financial stress, economic unrest, and navigating the changes that the pandemic brought to the world, people of all ages are experiencing stress, anxiety, and depression.
Mental health issues can be difficult to manage. But there is a simple change you can make at home that shifts your mindset, welcomes positivity, and helps ease those struggles—practicing gratitude.
Read on to find out how gratitude impacts your health, and easy ways to implement a daily gratitude practice.
Gratitude and the Brain
Most of us know that gratitude makes us feel good. But the reason why is actually scientific—gratitude changes your brain.
Gratitude has far been linked to positive psychology. Recently, researchers have discovered that your brain chemistry is altered when you practice gratitude.
A 2017 study conducted with participants who struggled with mental health and sought counseling for it asked some of them to send weekly gratitude letters. The participants who sent the letters reported an uptick in mental health.
When we exercise gratitude, it releases dopamine and seratonin, the “feel-good” hormones, leading to a sense of well-being and happiness.
It also trains our brains to look for the good in our lives, in others, and in the world around us.
Health Benefits of Gratitude
It isn’t just our mental health that benefits from gratitude—it also positively impacts our physical health.
Writing down something you are grateful for each day has been linked to a reduction in stress and cortisol.
It has also been shown to improve sleep, which reduces the risk of long-term negative health effects (including diabetes, heart disease, and strokes).
Gratitude Improves Relationships
One of the other big benefits of expressing gratitude is the impact it has on social connections and relationships.
People who express gratitude are more likely to report feeling connected and close with co-workers, friends, family members, and partners.
Those stronger relationships can make it easier to navigate mental health difficulties and can create less stressful social situations and negative emotions like resentment, jealousy, and anger—all of which cause more mental pain.
Ways to Practice Gratitude
Between the positive impacts on physical health, mental health, and relationships, it’s clear that gratitude is something worth emphasizing.
Daily gratitude practices go a long way toward improving your overall well-being. But...how do you prioritize gratitude and make sure that you’re focusing on the right things?
Try these tips for a daily gratitude practice:
Start with Awareness
How many times a day do you say, “Thank you?” without truly thinking about it or meaning it? Start catching yourself before you do and reflect on why you truly are appreciative. Then, when you do say thank you, you can mean it from the heart rather than just an empty phrase!
Keep a Gratitude Journal
Make it a point each evening to write down at least one thing you are grateful for from the day. It can be something as small as a coworker letting you step in front of them in the coffee line, or something big and impactful—whatever sticks with you from the day! Eventually, you’ll find yourself actively looking for opportunities to be grateful.
Write Thank-You Letters
Each week, commit to writing a thank you note or letter to someone. A friend, your spouse, your child, your mail delivery person—just make sure it’s genuine! The practice of expressing gratitude formally helps you form more meaningful connections and keeps you committed to the process.
Commit to Focusing on the Positive
When you find yourself wanting to vent or complain about something, think about how to reframe it. What about the situation can you learn from, grow from, or appreciate? It’s okay to feel the negative emotions too, but work to find the good within the bad.
Encourage Gratitude with Your Family
Set an example for others and practice sharing your gratitude. Take a few minutes at the beginning of dinner for everyone to share something they were grateful for from the day. You’ll bond with each other and set the stage for daily gratitude rituals.
Prioritize Your Health
It’s difficult to focus on gratitude when you have physical and mental health barriers causing you pain and holding you back. But when you make yourself a priority and take care of your body, you open yourself up, making it easier to practice gratitude and positivity.
Exercise, eat well, and complement your diet with supplements that take care of your body—like OPCXtra, a combination of six powerful antioxidants found in nature. OPCXtra battles free radical damage and helps your body function at its highest capacity.
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Commit to Gratitude Today
Take care of your body, nourish it with the right substances, and allow your mental and physical health to blossom.
Once you are prioritizing yourself, set a daily intention of gratitude, and experience the difference it brings into your life.