Gratitude and your mental health
Let's take a little Sunday self-care time to recognise the little things each day that we're grateful for, taking time to focus on the things we have, rather than the things we don't.
In his research Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D. has studied the link between gratitude and well-being, leading multiple experiments into the subject. He confirmed that:, people who actively use gratitude in their everyday lives have increased happiness, improved sleep, fewer physical issues, fewer medical visits, reduced depression, and longer lives – an average of seven years.
When we practice, we interrupt the cycle of negative thoughts and shift them allowing our systems time to recover. If we do this on a regular basis our system grows stronger like a muscle, and the negative thoughts become lighter. When we receive praise, our brain releases the chemical dopamine, encouraging us to do it again. We can get a similar reaction when we give praise to others and see the positive effect that it brings to others.
So how can we practice gratitude in our lives?
- Keep a gratitude journal. It could just be a list of 3 things you are grateful for each evening before bed.
- Write a thank you card. Easy to buy in little packs, receiving a written thank you note always brings a smile and is much nicer than all the bills you get through the door. Send them when you receive good service, gifts, or even just to say hello to friends that live away.
- Give back to where you live. Litter picking days, volunteer for gardening projects, or just spread wildflower seed along grass banks. Knowing you have added something back will help you look back with positivity, especially when it blooms around you.
- Give thanks in person. Next time you are thanking someone at work for doing well on a project skip the email. It's much nicer to walk across the office and thank them in person or pick up the telephone and have a little chat.
- Be present. When asking your kids about their school day or your partner about work, put down your phone and activity listen.
- Gift a Random Act of Kindness. It's very easy to say be kind but so much better when you follow this through with a random act of kindness, it could be a loved one or a complete stranger. Buying someone's coffee behind you in the queue or giving a bouquet of flowers to a shop worker, all will bring a smile to someone's day and spread gratitude.
These are just a few small ways to share gratitude and thanks, but we'd love to know yours. Leave them in the comments and spread a little ripple of joy today.