Why Practicing Gratitude is Important
By: Erika Escamilla
As Thanksgiving Day rapidly approaches us, it’s essential to shed light on the importance of gratitude. These days, coronavirus has left us in a cycle of feeling sorrow for the life we once knew as normal. This “new normal” leaves us thinking that we are missing out on a lot; however, we must focus on what we have. Research has shown that the benefits of being grateful include feeling happier and decreasing levels of depression and anxiety. Scientific evidence also proves that expressing gratitude improves physical health, sleep quality, cardiovascular health, and immune function. Practicing gratitude promotes optimistic outlooks for ourselves and others.
Practicing gratitude is not easy. It’s a lot easier to focus on the things you do not have rather than the things you do. It takes practice. Fortunately, there are tricks to help change your mindset and make being grateful a habit.
- Start with the little things: Noticing the little things that you do have can go a long way. For example, I like to start by just being grateful for having a clean room or that my internet connection is stable. Being aware of all the little things that have made your life just a little bit easier will snowball into the larger items that you can be grateful for, such as having a roof over your head or gaining an education at a university. Try not to be picky with the things you can and cannot be grateful for; this allows space for all things to be appreciated.
- Keep a Gratitude journal: One of the main pieces of advice I’ve heard is to write down three things that you are grateful for each day. Setting time aside to do this in the morning reduces stress and clears your mind from any worry, even if it’s’ just for a minute. A helpful tip to journaling is before writing anything, try remembering the bad experiences you tend to dwindle on; this can help you pinpoint what you are genuinely grateful for. This practice presents some contrast in your mind, which can then set up a ground for gratitude as you remember how far you have grown.
- Give thanks to yourself: Gratitude should not be one-sided. Although it’s essential to give thanks for the thing’s others do for you, it’s just, if not more, important to give thanks to the healthy habits that you have cultivated in your own life. Letting yourself sip a coffee or eating some veggies are things you should all be thankful for because it has allowed you to harness yourself in the practice of these healthy habits.
Being thankful for the things you have is vital to recognize not only during Thanksgiving but always. Practicing these tips will increase your mental health and provide some clarity in times of difficulty. As we continue to live in the time of Covid-19, giving thanks might make this pandemic a little more tolerable. So, the next time you’re feeling down by all the things you’re missing, give gratitude a try and appreciate the healing that stems from gratitude.