Thanksgiving marks the official kickoff of the holiday season. Despite the stir of excitement the season tends to bring, colder, shorter days and high expectations can sometimes leave us feeling more stressed, overwhelmed, and down.
However, research suggests that one aspect of the Thanksgiving season can actually lift the spirits, and it’s pretty straightforward – giving thanks! Developing an “attitude of gratitude,” is one of the simplest ways to improve your overall happiness in life.
Here are ways to cultivate gratitude on a regular basis:
● Keep a gratitude journal: Writing down a few things you are grateful for each day is one of the easiest and most popular exercises in practicing gratitude.
● Thank-you notes: Writing a thank-you letter to someone you are particularly grateful to have in your life is perhaps the most powerful gratitude exercise there is.
Expressing your appreciation for someone can make you happier and help nurture your relationship with that person.
● Gratitude walk: The goal of the gratitude walk is to observe the things you see around you as you walk. Take it all in to express gratitude for what you are experiencing in the present moment.
● Gratitude Box: Write down heartfelt messages of gratitude to loved ones and place them in a box. Give them the gift of gratitude by sharing your messages with them or do it as a family.
Gratitude has been shown to:
● Help you make friends: A study has shown that thanking a new acquaintance makes them more likely to seek a more lasting relationship with you.
● Improve physical health: People who show gratitude report feeling healthier, more regular exercise, fewer aches and pains, and more frequent checkups with their doctor.
● Enhance your self-esteem: People who are grateful have increased self-esteem, in part due to their ability to appreciate other peoples’ accomplishments.
● Improve psychological health: Research has shown that gratitude effectively increases happiness and reduces depression. Grateful people experience greater overall well-being, by releasing a multitude of toxic emotions.
● Promote empathy and reduce aggression: Those who show gratitude are less likely to seek revenge against others and more likely to behave in a prosocial manner, with sensitivity and empathy.
● Improve your sleep: Practicing gratitude regularly can help you sleep better and longer.
● Increase mental strength: Grateful people have an advantage in overcoming trauma and enhanced resilience, helping them to bounce back from highly stressful situations.
Here’s to your Well Being!
Erminia Severini, LPC