On days that you’re feeling down, remembering the things you have that you’re grateful for may help cheer you up. Gratitude can be a great tool in strengthening your mental health and overall wellness. Often, we are so overwhelmed and preoccupied with the stressors and emotions of our day-to-day that we overlook the amount of good we have in our lives. It isn’t until we make gratitude an active process that we can reap the benefits of having good things and people around us. In this article, we’ll go over two ways of practicing gratitude; 1) Gratitude Journaling and 2) External Expression.
One way to practice gratitude is by using a gratitude journal. Every night, go to your journal or your Notes app and write down 5 things that you are grateful for that day. These things don’t have to be groundbreaking. Maybe it’s the fact that a stranger held the door for you when your hands were full. Maybe it’s your best friend who said something to make you smile. Maybe it’s simply the fact that you have a roof over your head. When we sit down and really focus on the good things in our day-to-day, we remember how much there is to be grateful for, even on days that feel like a total flop.
Making gratitude a practice can also involve the expression of gratitude toward others. This goes beyond just saying “thank you” to be polite. The people around us don’t always know the effect that their kindness and positivity have on us. To let them know what their actions or words mean to us may not only turn their day around, but also boost our mood just through seeing their reaction to our expression of gratitude. What makes an expression of gratitude more meaningful than a simple “thank you” is to say why that thing was so important to you. For example, you could try saying to your partner, “Thank you for cooking dinner tonight. I have so much stuff to do, and you taking on this task gave me an opportunity to catch my breath.” Taking the time to genuinely thank someone for a way that they have helped you or made you happy also lets the people in our lives know in what ways they can best support us going forward. the next time you’re having a bad day, your loved ones can know what has cheered you up in the past, and put extra emphasis on making it happen again.
Regardless of how you do it or to whom you express it, practicing gratitude regularly can completely change the lens through which you experience your life, which will help to bolster your well-being and build your resilience to bounce back from bad days. You may be surprised at what things you find you’re truly grateful for.
By: Mel Signore
Mental Health Counseling Intern