How practicing gratitude can benefit your emotional wellness
Saying “Thank You” – it’s one of the first things we learn and usually becomes an automatic, polite response. Yet saying thank you and being grateful aren’t just about being polite; recognising the big or small things in our everyday lives can have a hugely positive impact on our emotional wellbeing and sense of fulfilment.
In research conducted by psychologists at the University of Miami and the University of California, a group of participants was asked to write a few sentences each week about things they were grateful for. After 10 weeks, they reported a happier mood and more positive attitude compared to the groups that had been asked to write negative or neutral things; they were more active and reported fewer physical problems.
Gratitude and mindfulness are topics that are often discussed in the same sphere and have recently been growing in popularity. Bach™ Original Flower Remedies has come up with a list of ways you can show gratitude each day to help you stay humble, improve your emotional health and live a healthier, happier life.
Focus on the best part of the day
Taking a moment every day to think of the best part of your day can have a wonderful impact on our outlook. Even on down days, finding one small thing that made you smile will help you focus on the positive, instead of accepting the negative. Though this isn’t necessarily an opportunity to say thanks, it is linked to mindfulness and could contribute to feeling more grateful about your every day. It could also be a nice moment to share with your family at the dinner table. Going around the table and telling everyone about the best part of your day can connect you, strengthen relationships and end the day on a positive note for everyone. If you don’t wish to share this, you could also write it down in a journal or simply take a moment to think about it before going to sleep.
This is similar to writing down the best part of your day, but instead, you could write down one thing you are thankful for every day. Whether it’s having felt the heat of the sun while going for a walk, or spent some quality time with a friend you care about, it can give you the opportunity for self-reflection, to focus on things that make you happy and evaluate why they do so and why you are grateful for them. If a pen and paper is a bit old-school for you, there are plenty of apps you could download that allow you to show gratitude daily.
While some of the goals of meditation are to be present and learn how to clear your mind, guided meditation s often have you take a second to self-reflect and think about your surroundings, your day or something that has made you happy, acknowledging that thought and then letting it slip away. There are many reported benefits to meditation including maintaining positive emotion and helping you regulate emotions in general, reducing stress, helping your ability to introspect, helping productivity, and even helping you in social situations. A quick YouTube browse for ‘guided gratitude meditations’ will give you some great free options if this is something you’d like to try out. There are also some meditation apps on the market that are a great option if you want to set a reminder or build towards a certain goal.
Yoga is also another option, combining movement and aspects of meditation. Like meditation, it could help clear your mind, regulate emotions and be more mindful. Yoga classes or videos often end with a 5-10 minute meditation called ‘chaturanga dandasana’; some teachers will have you think about your day or simply guide you gently into the meditation. The end of your practice can be the perfect moment for self-appreciation and to thank yourself for showing up on the mat, but also to mentally thank people you care for and things in life that make you happy.
Learning to practise gratitude also means spending time to reflect on your relationship with others: your family, friends, colleagues, acquaintances and even strangers. Helping people or volunteering can have a positive impact not only on your emotional health, but on others’ too. It can help you feel more connected, improve your social wellness and help you appreciate what you have and how you can contribute to others’ happiness as well. You could volunteer at a local shelter or charity shop or even spend an afternoon picking up litter in a park or the beach – every little bit you give back to the world and people around you helps!
Spending time in nature
Gratitude is intrinsically linked to our relationships with people, but it is also linked to our relationship with the physical world around us. Spending time in nature can help you feel more grounded and present and can even help you feel more emotionally balanced, especially if you live in a busy city. Take a moment to look around you and appreciate your surroundings – breathe in fresh air, gaze at a beautiful sunset, or feel the grass beneath your toes. We live in a world where we constantly use resources from the earth, so it’s important to that moment to appreciate everything nature gives us.