Gratitude is probably one of the most underestimated tools in treating mental and physical health problems.
We live in a society where lack is highlighted every day, the yearning for more is visible. Bettering ourselves became an obsession and with this comes the highlighting of what we lack. We want better cars, better homes, better partners, a more desirable body, more money, more everything. Hustle hard, ignore your limitations and aim for more.
Without gratitude, you are working towards one thing, depression, anxiety, frustration, anger, low self-esteem. On top of it because of all the stress, your body creates massive amounts of stress hormones which next to mental health issues will take its toll on your body. You name it any stress-related diseases you can think of from IBS (Irritable Bowle Syndrom) to heart attacks, increased risk of developing cancer and strokes. This world is so obsessed with what it doesn’t have that we ignore the things we have and how far we have come.
Studies show that gratitude has an impact on our physical and mental health
A lot of studies have revealed that gratitude has a massive effect on physical and mental well-being indeed. I am not surprised because shifting our focus to what we have achieved and what we have puts a positive filter on how we perceive the world. Instead of doom and gloom, we highlight the positive things. By no means, I would say that negativity does not exist, but the question is what room do you make daily for the things you appreciate?
How to use gratitude?
Write a journal
Write a journal, reflect on your day and write down 3 things you are grateful for and why you are grateful for it.
The reason why the WHY is so important is that we need the deep emotional connection to it. A lot of people write down, friends, family, a roof over their head, all the general stuff they believe they need to be grateful for. Reflecting on why you are grateful gives it an emotional connection and deepens the level of gratitude. You will understand completely WHY you are grateful. If you are not a big fan of doing it old school and writing it down on paper, then use today’s technology. You can record your journal via voice or video or even type it on the computer. You do not have to sit hours each day to write your journal, a few minutes each day are helping you to reflect on what is going on in your life and what you are grateful for.
Tell people that they are appreciated
Another of practicing gratitude is telling people what they mean to you and what you are grateful for. Practice putting gratitude into words. In this world, we do not tell each other enough what we appreciate in the people around us.
Become mindful. Practice mindfulness. It helps you to identify the negative thoughts you are thinking all day long without even noticing. Question the negative thoughts, are they backed up with facts or is it a fear of losing or failure? Understand that feelings come and go. MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction) has also been proven to work on anxiety, stress, depression and other related physical illnesses to these conditions.
Do not only make a list of what you are grateful for around or outside of you. Make a list of your gifts and talents. What is special about you?What is unique, or what is cool about you? Far too often we acknowledge what we are lacking, but never recognize what we are good at and therefore creating a low self-worth. People tend to be able to write a looooooong list of things they do not like about themselves. The majority of us has problems to acknowledge what it is awesome about us. We seem to think it is humble not to highlight our strengths and therefore concentrate more on our weaknesses.
Start practice gratitude every day, and it really will improve not only your physical and mental health but also enhances all the relationships around you.
By the way, I am grateful that you took time to read this article.