Gratitude and Mental Health

Gratitude and Mental Health

It’s that time of the year for bonfires and cozy gatherings with family and friends. Without the heat of the sun to warm us, we look to fuzzy slippers and hot soup. In this season where things tend to slow down, we get a chance to reflect on everything we’re grateful for.

But remember that gratitude and thankfulness aren’t just a thanksgiving tradition. They are also powerful tools against anxiety and depression. Adding a practice of thankfulness and gratitude into your daily life has the power to transform your mental health.

 

Gratitude and Thanks Can Change Your Life

In today’s world everything is at your fingertips, special thanks to the device you read this article on. As convenient as it may be, it can be too easy to get lost in the sea of everything. After all, you have the entirety of the internet to show you all the things you’re potentially missing in your life. Over time, it gets more difficult to see what’s right in front of you.

If you keep finding yourself trapped in resentment and feel like you’re always lacking something, you’re not alone. But without gratitude for what you do have, you fall victim to feelings like envy and cynicism. This place of lack eats away at your mental health and even affects the people around you.

You may not always have the best day and things may not work out the way you want them to but try to remember that there’s always something to be grateful for. Developing a practice of thankfulness and gratitude is about paying more attention to the small parts of our lives that bring in joy, so that they get easier and easier to find

Practicing gratitude fights against the negative thought loops that keep you feeling trapped. It’s not always easy to be grateful on our bad days, but that’s when it’s most important. If you’re struggling, consider making thankfulness and gratitude a part of your daily life.

Gratitude Tips

Start a Gratitude Journal

A lot of us never take the time to properly acknowledge all the good parts of our lives. If you’re always plagued with negative thought loops, it wouldn’t hurt to try a gratitude journal. Anxiety and depression build on top of negative thought patterns, and a positive journaling practice is a chance to challenge your inner monologue.

To get the most out of a journaling practice, make your statements specific to you. Generalized statements like “I am grateful for my health” tend to feel empty and don’t help to scratch the surface of your mind. Make your thankfulness and gratitude personal and specific. Here are a few examples of specific statements.

Say Thank You to Someone Who Deserves It

Think back to a time where you were thanked for something. Did it make you feel warm and fuzzy inside? Chances are the person thanking you felt the same way. Gratitude is the gift that keeps on giving.

It feels good to be acknowledged, and it feels equally good to acknowledge others. Being mindful about appreciating the people we connect with each day deepens our sense of belonging and purpose in this world. Acting on our gratitude by showing our appreciation for others helps build self-esteem and reduces social anxiety.

Start The Day with Gratitude

The first moments of your day are arguably some of the most important. In the process of waking up, this is where your mind is the most suggestible. The thoughts you choose to pay attention to when you first wake up have the power to set the tone of the rest of your day. Instead of picking up your phone and cluttering your headspace with negativity, spend the first few minutes looking for something to be grateful for.

Meditate

There are many benefits of a meditation practice. Meditation is less about sitting in one place and doing nothing, and more about shifting your focus. To strengthen your ability to find gratitude, try to focus on everything your grateful for during meditation. The more you reflect on the blessings in your life, the more you’ll find.

Find a Therapist

Everyone experiences resentment to an extent. It’s okay to feel ungrateful and hopeless sometimes. It means you’re human. Being told to “just be grateful” can leave a bad taste in your mouth if you struggle with your mental health. As a therapist, I know it’s not always that easy.

If your experience with depression and anxiety is severe enough, finding gratitude is an uphill battle. You don’t have to suffer alone. As therapists, it’s our job to help you out of the woods.

Here at Dr. Messina and Associates, our compassionate team of professionals are qualified to help you at our Flower Mound, Texas, and Southlake, Texas, offices. Our Psychologists, Psychiatrists, and Counselors specialize in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), psychological testing, and medication management for a variety of emotional and behavioral health needs. All services are available in-person and online (telehealth). If you or a loved one are seeking help with mental health, we are here to help.

Author
Dr. Michael Messina

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