You’re thinking surely being grateful can’t affect my mental health that much? Gratitude has a multitude of effects on your mental health. Not only does it affect your outlook on life. But, gratitude has been proven to increase your resilience to recognise the good and everything to be thankful for even in the most traumatic experiences.
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Now, gratitude comes hand in hand with happiness. When one increases so does the other. Through focusing on being grateful it can increases your emotions positively and your mental health. Sometimes, when you are struggling with your mental health it is hard to see what there is in your life to grateful for. Your vision of your world becomes blurred and distorted. But, there is always something to be grateful for in the world! Here is how being grateful can improve your mental health…
The first step is to recognise what you are grateful for. We live in a world that is fast paced and full of competition. It is so easy to forget what we are actually grateful for. Even when you try not to, you take advantage of the life that you have and forget the things that really matter.
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Write, draw or even create a board of gratefulness. It could feature people, items, pets or achievements that you are thankful for. This will help you to highlight everything in your life that you have. Even in the darkest of times there is always something to be grateful for. For example, in the worst events such as for me loosing my auntie to cancer I was grateful for the time we spent together and the lessons she taught me. Without her being a part of my life for that period of time I wouldn’t of become the person I am today.
Therefore, it is key to take a step back and observe your life and realise what you actually have to be appreciative of!
Now, that you have highlighted what you are grateful for it’s time to act on it. Most things in your life you will be grateful for are things that involve other people. So, show them that you are thankful for what they have done for you. Whether that is simply saying thank you or showing your gratitude through an action.
Some ideas of how to act are:-
- Thank someone and share with them why you are grateful for them
- Make time for the people that mean the most to you
- Show someone why you are thankful for them being a part of your life
Actions speak louder than words
Show people how you are grateful for everything they have done for you. Now, it doesn’t have to be extravagant it could simply be acknowledging the person that has helped you at university or saying thank you and wishing someone a good day who has served you at a shop. Those little acts will not only make you appreciate life but also contribute to that persons day! The fast paced technology driven world we live in means sometimes we forget to take a step backwards and truly recognise and appreciate what you are grateful for!
A big part of being grateful is recognising that even the darkest times can highlight the positive. A teacher once told me that there will always be someone better off than you and someone worse so be thankful for where you are and what you have!
Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.
– Oprah Winfrey
Like Oprah says by focusing on the positive you will realise you have more than you need. No matter how hard it gets there is always something positive to come out of it. For example, when I lost my auntie my world was shattered I honestly couldn’t cope my mental health spiralled out of control but I learnt that I was lucky to have the life I have. The supportive family and to be able to live.
Next time something happens that seems negative or challenging try to find the positive because no matter how bad it is there will be something positive!
At the end of the day you have to be grateful for the life you have. There will always be someone better than you. But, there will always be someone who is worse. Just remember that! Yes, I lost my auntie there was someone better off than me that didn’t loose their auntie but there was also people worse off than me that have lost all of their family.
Be thankful for your blessings and never doubt your struggles. Don’t ask why it happened, just be thankful for the strength it gave you.
You have this life for a reason so make the most of it! Be grateful, love and laugh.
The science behind being grateful
It’s all good and well me sharing this advice but here is some actual science for you behind gratefulness and mental health. When being grateful it stimulates two parts of the brain. One part which controls are stress levels decreasing them and another which controls feelings of pleasure.
By being grateful and showing gratitude you are actually decreasing your stress levels and positively rewarding your brain= overall happiness!
Ideas of being grateful
Now, I’ve already shared one idea of recognising everything you have to be grateful for. But, here are some other ideas…
- Memory Jar- All you need is a glass/plastic large jar and some sticky notes! Every week write down something you are appreciative of. It doesn’t matter how big or small it could simply be someone holding a door open for you or you achieved a certain grade. At the end of the year you can go through the jar and see all of the things you have achieved/have in your life that are great!
- Scrap Book- Scrap book are so affordable and a great way of capturing those special moments. I love printing off pictures of events I’ve attended, holidays, random pictures of me and my family. Whenever, I feel like I’m having a little wobble with my mental health I love looking through it and reminiscing of everything I’ve done and have to be proud of! I love using free prints for printing my photos off!
- Challenge Sheet- Create a challenge sheet for the month showing how you can be grateful but also sharing your gratitude. For example it could feature acts such as smile at someone or message someone telling them why you are grateful that they are a part of your life.