As the year is coming to an end, it’s a perfect time to practice gratitude. Thanksgiving is traditionally a time when we focus on giving thanks here in the United States, but Christmas, New Year and other religious and cultural celebrations can serve as occasions for counting our blessings as well.
Why is it important to practice gratitude? Does one really need to practice being grateful? Let’s take a deeper dive:
Gratitude is a feeling of appreciation or thanks– and this can be in regards to something that is tangible (ie. a gift, a home-cooked meal, a freshly manicured lawn) or intangible (ie a kind word, a warm hug, a shoulder to cry on). In the hustle and bustle of most people’s everyday lives, it can be difficult to be intentional about feeling and expressing gratitude, which can lead to experiencing increased stress, anxiety and depression. Positive psychology research has shown that gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with happiness. In other words, when you make it a priority to focus on the goodness in your life, it can help you to connect to something larger than yourself as an individual- be it nature, community or a higher power. This connectedness, in turn, helps you to feel more positive emotions which leads to improved health, better life experiences, and greater resiliency when faced with adversity.
How can I practice gratitude? Contrary to what some may think, it doesn’t always come easy. Here are some ideas to help you cultivate a greater sense of gratitude in your life:
- Keep a gratitude journal: Doesn’t have to be fancy. You don’t have to write a dissertation. Just write down three things you are grateful for before bedtime every night. That’s it! Nothing makes for a good night’s sleep like giving thanks.
- Meditate: Doesn’t have to be long. Doesn’t need a special setup. Just take a few minutes a day to practice mindfulness meditation, focusing on that for which you are thankful. Headspace, Calm, and CBT-i coach are great apps with meditation resources.
- Just say thank you: This can be done physically or mentally. Write a thank you letter to a long time friend for always supporting you. Call a relative to thank them for the joy they bring to your life. Don’t have time or feeling overwhelmed by expressing these feelings openly? Start with thanking them mentally. Express gratitude for difficult times and lessons learned as well- there is a lot of power in reframing a negative experience into one that served you in some way.
Below are 3 of my reasons to be grateful today- what are yours?!
At Salveo Direct Care we use our Lifestyle Medicine training to interlace positive psychology throughout our treatment plans. Gratitude and its healing powers is a common topic of discussion with our patients. If you are feeling stressed, overwhelmed or anxious, call our office to schedule your free 15 minute consult to find out more about Direct Primary Care and to see what we can do for you as your Personal Physicians.
Crafting your path to wellness and renewed vitality is our passion.
Dr. Monica Salas with Salveo Direct Care