Practicing gratitude can decrease stress, increase optimism, and improve your well-being. This is because negative thoughts can be very draining. So, changing your outlook and focusing on the positives in your life can help pave your path to healing.
If you need help finding thankfulness in your life, reach out for counseling. Talking about your problems, and recognizing the good you already have in your life, can lead to more happiness and fulfillment while reducing stress and depression.
Below are a handful of gratitude exercises, pick one or two and incorporate them into your daily routine.
Recognize something positive about yourself and give yourself praise. Too often, people put themselves down for past mistakes. Forgive yourself and recognize all of the good you have in your life now. For example, you could tell yourself you are thankful for your patience in dealing with difficult circumstances. Or, you could state that you are grateful for your ability to organize your home efficiently.
Share a Compliment
Just as people get in the habit of noticing their own faults, it’s common for individuals to be quick to complain about the people close to them, too. Take a moment to consider the things you appreciate about individuals in your life. Express gratitude to a friend, partner, or child. Choose something you specifically enjoy about the person and share that with them. If your child is a good parent, tell them. If you appreciate the meals your partner prepares, let them know you appreciate their cooking skills.
To establish a new routine of gratitude, you’ll need to enforce the new behavior. Place a note on your refrigerator reminding you to practice gratitude. Or, if you are often on a laptop or phone, set an alarm for a daily moment of gratitude. Consistently acknowledging the positive will eventually come naturally.
Make a Gratitude Jar
Find an empty, clean jar and place it somewhere you’ll see it twice day. Ideally, in the morning and at night. Possible ideas include placing the jar next to your bed or near your toothbrush. When you are near the jar or bowl, take a moment to think of something you are thankful for and add a coin or two, acknowledging your blessings. Then, once the container is filled, share your gratitude by giving the money away, as a donation or a gift.
Or, write down something you are thankful for each day and add the slip of paper to your gratitude jar instead. Then, if a time comes when you are feeling stressed or anxious, calm yourself by opening the jar and reading through your notes.
How to Feel Grateful During Stressful Times
While expressing gratitude during difficult times can be taxing, it is still important. You can acknowledge things are difficult now, and honor your feelings, while still finding aspects of life to appreciate. After all, research shows that grateful people report lower levels of depression and stress, even when life is demanding and hard to understand.