This is a guest post written by Laurie. Find out more about her at the end of the post!
The holidays are a special time of year. It’s when we are encouraged to count our blessings and recall fond memories of holidays past. We take a break from our regular routines to slow down and spend time with family and friends, and there is an atmosphere of giving thanks and appreciation of one another.
But come January, we return to our busy lives. Back at work or university, we get caught up in tasks and projects and stop noticing all the wonderful things around us. But what if instead, we could hold on to that attitude of thankfulness all year. There would be enormous benefits for our mental and physical health.
If you haven’t already, now is the best time to add a gratitude practice to your daily routine.
Why is Gratitude so Important
Having a gratitude practice is one of the most important additions to our routine, boosting our day-to-day happiness. Multiple scientific studies have linked gratitude with greater feelings of happiness, and it has been found to reduce negative emotions such as envy, greed, and anger.
One study found that a practice of gratitude is more powerful than patience, forgiveness, or self-control in determining our future happiness and feelings of hopefulness.
Gratitude has physical effects as well, with one study finding that participants who practised gratitude had fewer visits to the doctor than their peers. It has also lowered blood pressure in some cases, and can improve our overall immune system.
But the positive impacts of gratitude go beyond ourselves. Supervisors that express sincere thanks to their employees build more productive and loyal teams, and people that practice gratitude are much more likely to donate to charities.
Types of Gratitude Practices to Try
There are many ways to add gratitude to your daily routine. Here are a few suggestions:
1. Write a thank-you note
Send someone a message of appreciation. It doesn’t have to be a long note, just a quick line that genuinely expresses your gratefulness for something they did. It will boost your mood as well as theirs.
But it turns out that we don’t even have to send the letter to gain the benefits. So write a letter to that awesome teacher you had in elementary school or an old friend you lost contact with, just for yourself. You’ll enjoy those positive memories with a healthy dose of gratitude.
Similar to thank you notes, journaling is a great way to express gratitude. There are many mental health benefits to journaling, and it can be an easy habit to add consistently to your routine.
Writing down things that you are grateful for is a wonderful way to practice gratitude.
A gratitude prayer isn’t a religious practice, it’s about reflecting on your day or looking forward to what’s to come. Mentally listing three things you are grateful for first thing in the morning can be a great way to start your day.
I like to use this method in conjunction with listing three of the day’s accomplishments as part of my night-time routine.
4. Slow Down
How often do we automatically say “thank you”? Think about the last time someone held the door for us when our hands were full; the mail carrier hands us our package; the cashier gives us our change- we say thank you on autopilot.
Next time, slow down and think about being genuinely appreciative. Turning that interaction into sincere gratitude makes for a better day for both of you.
5. Be More Present
Hundreds of positive things happen to us every day, but we’re usually too busy to notice them. When we try to be more present, we are more likely to appreciate those little things that improve our day.
It might be getting extra whipped cream on your cocoa, a quiet evening at home, or a beautiful sunset. When we are calm and feel like we’re on track with our goals, we are more likely to notice and appreciate these little things to be thankful for.
Tips to Make Your Practice More Beneficial
The benefits from gratitude are enormous, but they may not happen overnight. Here are a few ways to make your new habit more successful:
1. Get specific
Instead of writing a generalised statement, try to be detailed. For example, instead of thinking, “thank you for a great evening,” change it to “I’m grateful for the fun evening of baking cookies together and watching old movies with my best friend.”
2. Change your vocabulary
This can be one of the most difficult things to do, because we don’t always hear ourselves talk. Try to pay attention to your language and change the focus from yourself to others. Think of adding words like blessed, fortune, gratitude, abundance, gifts, and thankfulness to your vocabulary.
3. Mix it up
When we do the same thing over and over, it becomes routine, and we switch into autopilot. Gratitude needs us to be present in the moment, to gain the full benefits.
While we may always be grateful for the same things like family or friends, try to think of additional ideas to mix it up. This prevents it from losing meaning and makes us more focused on looking around us at all the possibilities.
What are some of the things that you’re grateful for? What type of gratitude practice works best for you? Do you want to try adding gratitude into your daily routine?
Let us know in the comments 🙂
Happy reading x
About the Author:
Laurie Trueblood is a freelance writer specialising in topics of nerd culture and mental health.
She is the editor for Adventures to Authenticity, a fantasy-themed self development and lifestyle blog.