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Being Grateful Can Improve Your Mental Health

Joanna is a Mental Health First Aider who practices gratitude regularly, and especially during stressful or difficult times, as a way to manage her mental health. And she’s not alone. Many mental health intervention programs and life coaching regimes include gratitude practices in their treatments through activities like gratitude journaling, group discussions and daily meditation.

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.

If you’re not sure where to start or how to practice gratitude every day, try these simple exercises:

  1. Try to appreciate everything. This includes not only the big and obvious, but also the small. Recognize the good in every part of your day.
  2. Find gratitude in your challenges. It can be hard to feel thankful when faced with a stressful situation. But taking the time to find gratitude and optimism during your difficult times can make managing them easier.
  3. Keep a gratitude journal. Take a few minutes at the end of each day to think about what you are grateful for and write them down. This can be anywhere from one thing to 10 and will help you develop a habit of recognizing the good from each day.
  4. Volunteer in your community. Research shows that volunteering is significantly helpful in improving mental and physical health, including increased life satisfaction and happiness, and lower depressive symptoms, stress and anxiety.
  5. Spend time with loved ones. Spending time with loved ones can help you recognize things to be grateful for and evoke feelings of happiness and love.

It can be easy to get busy during the holiday season but taking a few minutes every day to practice gratitude can have a positive and long-lasting impact on your mental health.

You can also take Mental Health First Aid. Mental Health First Aid teaches participants how to use self-care as a tool to manage mental health challenges during stressful times.

We thank you all for your hard work and dedication to #BeTheDifference in your community and hope you have a safe Thanksgiving holiday!