Gratitude and Mental Health

gratitude

What is Gratitude?

Gratitude is a feeling that one experiences when they are thankful for something. It is an emotion which is much more than just saying “thank you”.

Imagine this: “the day you were engaged, the day you found your dream job, the day you got hitched, the day you passed your class 12 with flying colours, the day you got married, the birth of your first child or the day your parents said I am proud of you!” What all emotions did you feel? It went much beyond a simple “thank you”. It was probably a very positive emotion that cannot be expressed in words.

What does Gratitude comprise of?

• A positive emotion.

• Recognition of things others do for us.

• Being grateful for all the nice things in your life.

• Readiness to show appreciation.

• Return kindness.

At the end of the day when you finally hit the pillow, tired and instead of cribbing or complaining how hectic the day was, do you feel satisfied that you had a productive day? Or do you remember a small deed someone did for you and you appreciate their effort and aim to return the kindness in some way or the other? Your answers to these questions will help you figure out how grateful are you. To learn more, connect with the best Psychologist near me at TalktoAngel.

Why to be grateful?

So much happens in our lives each day that we just forget to focus on the positives. Okay let’s try an exercise.

Look around your room and see how many black things are there in the room, now close your eyes and try to recall them. After this, keeping your eyes closed try to recall the white things present in the room. You’ll probably be able to recall very few of them or maybe none!

This shows that we’re so consumed focusing on the negatives in life that we just forget to notice the positives!

Being grateful for whatever good crosses your path or for something good someone does for you makes you a happier, more humble and a more satisfied individual. You acknowledge the good deeds of others and believe that the world is not that cruel. Goodness still exists.

Some advantages of expressing gratitude are:

• It makes you a happier person as you come know life offers you so much.

• Your emotional and physical health both improve as a result.

• It boosts self-esteem.

• It helps you stay empathetic towards others.

What comes in the way of Gratitude?

Sometimes we fail to express gratitude because there is a sense of entitlement. We may feel , “this was supposed to happen” , and when we expect things to happen our way all the time, we may not be able to experience Gratitude.

When thoughts like “I deserve this” or “He/She owes me this” occur to us, we often fail to express gratitude. We believe that what is happening is bound to happen and there’s nothing that we need to appreciate, which is not the right approach.

Sometimes, we may not even realise but we have a “negative outlook” and unknowingly refrain from looking at the bright side, which results in us feeling that nothing is right and this pessimism in turn negatively affects our mental health resulting in developing anxiety and experiencing episodes of depression.

Impact of Gratitude on mental health

There exists a positive correlation between experiencing gratitude and our mental health.

Expressing gratitude has a positive impact on our mental health and help us transform our outlook.

Mental health issues like anxiety and depression are a result of underlying negative intrusive thoughts and in such situations expressing gratitude can prove to be a game changer.

Experiencing gratitude involves observing things that are right, taking note of what all we have.

This certainly does not imply that we have invalidate our feelings and always focus on the “bright side”, which is not possible. It is okay to experience the negative emotions as well, but once we feel we are being overshadowed by the negative emotions, Gratitude comes to rescue.

When we experience Gratitude we take a break from ruminating and worrying which can help alleviate levels of Anxiety and Depression.

Besides, gratitude can also help improve our social relations as we learn to realise what others have been doing for us, instead of taking what they do for granted.

It may also help us uplift our mood and alleviate the gloom, once we focus on what all we have instead of ruminating over what all went wrong.

Surprisingly, it has also been noted that expressing gratitude can help improve our physical health as well. Studies indicate that people experiencing gratitude have high energy levels and a stronger immune system.

Interesting, how experiencing a small emotion can help us in such magical ways!

How to cultivate Gratitude?

Expressing gratitude or being thankful for something isn’t a very complex process. All we need to do is acknowledge and appreciate the good that comes our way.

When was the last time you sincerely appreciated someone for helping you? Are you cultivating gratitude?

Some tips to cultivate gratitude are:

• Maintain a gratitude journal. Write the things you’re thankful for. It not only helps you acknowledge the good things that come your way that day but later in life, when things go haywire and nothing feels right you can see the journal and remind yourself that there’s much to be thankful for!

• Consider your progress in the past. Keep moving ahead in life, but for once pause and look back.. How far you have come, so much good has happened to you.

• Say thank you for the smallest thing someone does for you. When was the last time you thanked your Mom for a good meal?

• Focus on the positives. When you face challenges in life, try not to crumble under pressure, shift focus from the negatives to the positivity that came your way and it will motivate you to keep working hard.

• Reciprocate kindness. Try to return the kindness that you receive. When a colleague offers to take up any of your responsibilities because you had to go home early, do not just forget it, maybe you can cook their favourite pasta and serve it to them the next day because they themselves are not a good cook.

When an unknown keeps a door open for us in a mall instead of just banging it shut in your face, do you nod at them, acknowledge the gesture, express gratitude or just walk past them?

Conclusion

When you express gratitude, it not only makes you feel good about yourself and about life but it also makes the day of the person whose efforts you acknowledge.

It pushes you to stay kind to the world and when you appreciate someone’s effort, it pushes them too to keep doing the good things they do.

Like it is said, the things you take for granted often don’t stay with you for long. So why not take out some time and be thankful, why not shift focus from negativity to the positivity that comes your way.

Before you sleep tonight try using phrases like “I’m grateful for the fruitful day I had.” Or “I’m grateful for having a wonderful family and great friends.”

Or maybe drop a message to someone you want to thank for something they did. Start today, be grateful and see how it not only changes your life for the better but also of the people around you! A small step today can lead to a great destination tomorrow.

For more information, feel free to seek Online Counselling at TalktoAngel.

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