How does gratitude improve your mental health?

Gratitude is a warm connection and appreciation that you feel or express towards something or someone. It’s another word for being thankful and we commonly feel gratitude for our friends, family, and more. 

Not everyone knows how enriching practicing gratitude is, and in turn, they might have difficulties with self-esteem and finding the good in life. Gratitude, when practiced, can significantly change your life for the better! 

It might take some getting used to, but over time grateful people notice a shift in their lives. They’re happier, less stressed, among other things. 

What’s the science behind gratitude and how it can improve your mental health?

Gratitude can make you happier and improve the quality and duration of sleep.

Studies in neuroscience have shown that gratitude improves mental health because it releases positive neurotransmitters in the brain associated with happiness and can alleviate stress hormones. As a result, this can improve your sleep which is crucial to being able to function every day.

Psychology Today shared a pro-tip from a 2011 study published in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being: According to this study, if you “spend just 15 minutes jotting down a few grateful sentiments before bed, and you may sleep better and longer.”

Gratitude is for everyone and can act as a healthy distraction.

Gratitude and the positive impacts aren’t just for well-functioning or adjusted people. There seems to be this notion that in order to be grateful, you have to have all your ducks in a row but that’s simply not true. You could be dealing with loss or stress factors at work and still benefit from gratitude. How?

The best way to put it comes from Greater Good Magazine at Berkeley. They state, “Gratitude unshackles us from toxic emotions.”

In their study observing writing groups expressing their gratitude, they observed a temporary shift in mental health and concluded that gratitude journaling acted as a distraction from negative emotions and made room for improved mental health.

 

Gratitude can make you more optimistic and alleviate stress and anxiety.

Mental Health First Aid shared a report from Positive Psychology saying, “Research has also shown that “by consciously practicing gratitude, we can train the brain to attend selectively to positive emotions and thoughts, thus reducing anxiety and feelings of apprehension.” The simple act of reminding yourself of the positive things in your life – even as simple as the roof over your head or food on your plate – can invoke feelings of thankfulness and optimism that make managing stress, depression or anxiety easier.”

With consistent practice, gratitude will eventually be as simple and easy as inhaling and exhaling. It’s a process that can bring clarity and mindfulness into your life. If you want to dedicate your time to working on this area of your life, we highly recommend the Gratitude Journal. This journal is a 100-day journey on the path of gratitude and encourages self-reflection.

Before you go, tell us one thing you’re grateful for in a comment below!

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