“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” ~ Robert Brault
November marks the arrival of National Gratitude Month, a time to recognize and appreciate the blessings in our lives. Gratitude, defined as the appreciation of the good in our lives, is a powerful emotion that can significantly impact our mental and emotional well-being.
Have you ever started your day, stopped at the store to grab your coffee, and had someone hold the door for you, or let you go in front of them in line? How did that moment make you feel? Personally, when I experience even the simplest act of kindness, it brings a smile to my face and fills me with positivity as I embark on my day. I try to make a conscious effort to pause and genuinely savor the act of kindness.
But what about when you’re the one performing a kind act? Have you ever noticed the expressions on the faces of those you helped? They often respond with smiles and kind words, leaving you feeling good, hoping you managed to brighten their day, even if just a little.
According to University of Utah Health, incorporating gratitude and appreciation into your life has the potential to decrease the stress hormone, cortisol. Additionally, the act of expressing gratitude can boost you mood hormones resulting in a heightened sense of pleasure and well-being.
Benefits of Practicing Gratitude
Reduced stress and depression: Gratitude promotes a sense of contentment and well-being, which can help alleviate stress and reduce symptoms of depression.
Enhanced mood: Expressing gratitude helps shift our focus from the negative aspects of our lives to the positive, boosting our overall mood and happiness.
Strengthened social connections: Expressing gratitude to others fosters deeper connections and strengthens our relationships.
How to Incorporate Gratitude into Daily Life
Start your day with a gratitude journal: Dedicate a few minutes each morning to write down three things you're grateful for. This practice sets a positive tone for the day and helps you appreciate the good in your life. To learn how to incorporate journaling into you daily life, visit our beginners guide on journaling.
Reframe negative thoughts: When faced with challenges or negative emotions, take a moment to pause and identify three positive aspects of the situation. This shift in perspective can help you manage stress and maintain a positive outlook.
Express gratitude to others: Regularly express your appreciation to those around you. Whether it's a simple "thank you" or a more elaborate expression, letting others know how much you value them can build and strengthen your relationships and deepens your social connections.
Have a “gratitude buddy:” Have someone you can share the things you are grateful for on a regular basis. It can be at the dinner table with family, or a simple phone call with a friend, trying to focus only on good and positive experiences.
The phrase "attitude of gratitude" perfectly encapsulates the importance of cultivating a positive and thankful mindset. Gratitude is not about ignoring life's challenges or pretending that everything is perfect; it's about recognizing and appreciating the good, even amidst difficulties. By incorporating gratitude into your daily life, you can reap the many benefits it has to offer, including improved mood, reduced stress, and stronger relationships.
It’s important to emphasize, that while practicing gratitude isn’t a cure-all for struggles with mental health, it can be a valuable tool and aid in your journey towards better mental well-being.
If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health challenges, remember that you're not alone.
Professional help is available and clinicians at our Counseling & Wellness Centers can provide you with the support you need. Call us at (844) 4-ACENDA (844-422-3632 X9500) to learn more.
About the author:
Stephanie Taylor is the Communications and Development Manager at Acenda, where she uses her passion for helping others to create compelling content that raises awareness about behavioral health and hopes to inspire others. She has a BA in psychology and over 25 years of experience in the behavioral health field. She is also a mom to three young men and enjoys spending time with her family and friends, gardening, and reading.