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5 Reasons to Start a Gratitude Practice + Tips on Practicing Gratitude Simply

Updated: Jan 6

Most people are unaware of how you can improve your wellness with a simple gratitude routine. It's more than just being thankful because there's an element of mindfulness involved. Gratitude is the practice of declaring and acknowledging the good things in one's life, as well as how others contribute to those good things.

Practicing gratitude by writing words of gratitude on two rocks in the grass

Physical and Mental Health Benefits of a Gratitude Practice: Why You Should Feel Grateful Today

A gratitude practice can alter the way you experience life and the relationships in which you participate. Gratitude has numerous benefits, ranging from improved wellness to a more positive approach to relationships. Let’s explore these five reasons why we should practice gratitude.

1. Improvement in Physical Health

A gratitude practice has positive effects on physical health, but not necessarily for the reasons one might think. A PMC research study on the link between gratitude and self-rated physical health in adults suggests that individuals who have a regular gratitude practice also meet the following criteria:

-They take part in healthy activities
-They are willing to seek help for health concerns
-They care for their psychological health

This suggests that if you think about what you're thankful for, you're more likely to take care of your health and thus be physically healthier.

Image of different gratitude journals for self care

2. Better Sleep

Dr. Amit Sood advises in Mayo Clinic’s Adult Health online publication that one of the main benefits of a gratitude practice is improved sleep. Stress takes a toll on our sleep cycles. And since gratitude can improve your happiness and mood, it pays off in the form of better sleep. Gratitude journals, jars, and reminders are all great ways to start adding gratitude to your nightly routine.

3. Self Esteem & Mental Health Boost

Many of us are looking for ways to give our self-esteem a healthy boost. Practicing gratitude has been found to have a positive effect on one’s mental health and self-esteem, according to research published in Current Psychology.

4. Better Connection with Others

Research on the functions of gratitude in everyday relationships reveals that gratitude can significantly strengthen a relationship. According to Algoe, this effect is evolutionary and helps to signal relationship norms that only improve over time. A simple gesture of gratitude can go a long way toward enhancing the quality of your professional, romantic, and casual relationships.

5. Stress Relief

The positive effects of gratitude go beyond merely improving physical health. Findings in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research suggest that cardiac patients who practice gratitude are more likely to adhere to their stress reduction recommendations. In addition, research published in the International Journal of Psychophysiology suggests that higher levels of gratitude may improve our response to stressful triggers and mental health.

Ways to Start a Gratitude Practice

Here are two ways to practice or express gratitude. Experience the boost in positive emotions that feeling grateful can bring!

Practice Present Moment Gratitude

Practicing present-moment gratitude is one of the quickest ways to shift your mood and refocus your mind. Whenever you feel yourself starting to dwell on negative thoughts or experiences, take a step back and try to find something to be grateful for in the present moment. It could be anything, no matter how small. Maybe you're grateful for the sun shining today or for a friend who called just when you needed it.

Focusing on gratitude can help snap you out of a negative mindset and allow you to enjoy the good things in your life. So next time you're feeling down, try taking a few minutes to take inventory of things that you're grateful for. It just might make a difference in how you're feeling! There are many other great wellness ideas to bring you back into the present moment, such as meditation.

Expressing Gratitude to Others

Expressing gratitude to others is a great way to show them how much you appreciate them. Whether it's a simple "thank you" for something they did or a more heartfelt expression of gratitude, taking the time to let others know how grateful you are can make a big difference in your relationship.

If you're not sure how to express your gratitude, start by thinking about what it is that you're thankful for. What has this person done that you really appreciate? Maybe they went out of their way to help you, or they were always there for you when you needed them. Once you've identified what it is that you're grateful for, take some time to write a gratitude letter or say it out loud.

Use a Gratitude Journal

One of the best ways to become more grateful is to keep a gratitude journal. A gratitude journal is simply a notebook where you jot down things that you're thankful for each day. The act of taking the time to write out your thankfulness can help shift your focus from negative to positive, and research has shown that people who regularly practice gratitude are happier and more resilient in the face of stress.

How to Start Journaling

If you're not sure how to get started with a gratitude journal, try setting aside five minutes each day to write down three things that you're grateful for. It can be anything from small (a good cup of coffee) to big (a new job). You might also want to include a sentence or two about why you're grateful for each thing. For example, if you're grateful for your health, you might write about how thankful you are to be able to enjoy good health and all the activities that come with it.

If you find that you're struggling to come up with things to be grateful for, try thinking about all the good things that have happened to you in the past week, no matter how small. Maybe you had a great workout, or someone did something nice for you. Maybe you finally got that project at work done. Whatever it is, take a moment to appreciate it and be thankful.

Gratitude journaling can be a powerful tool for helping you focus on the positive things in your life. Give it a try and see how it goes! It is never too late to cultivate gratitude.

Gratitude Journal Prompts

Reflect on a moment today that filled your heart with joy, and write down three things you're grateful for in that moment.

List three people in your life who have made a positive impact, and express your gratitude for their presence.

Write about a challenge you faced recently and find three things within it that you're grateful for, even if they are lessons learned.

Consider a skill or talent you possess and express gratitude for the opportunities it has provided in your life.

Reflect on a place that brings you peace and write about the specific elements of that space for which you are grateful.

Identify a personal strength or quality that you appreciate about yourself and explore how it has contributed to your growth.

Think of a current obstacle and find aspects within it that you can be thankful for, focusing on the potential for growth.

List three things about your physical health that you're grateful for today, no matter how small.

Express gratitude for a lesson you learned from a recent mistake or failure, acknowledging the growth it brought.

Write about a favorite memory with a loved one and detail the aspects of that memory that fill you with gratitude.

Consider a daily routine or habit that positively impacts your life, expressing appreciation for its consistency.

Reflect on a recent act of kindness someone showed you, and explore the ripple effect of that kindness in your life.

Write down three qualities in a friend or family member that you are grateful for and appreciate in your relationship.

Consider a specific aspect of nature that you find beautiful, and express gratitude for the tranquility it brings.

List three accomplishments or milestones in your life that you're proud of and grateful for.

Reflect on a book, movie, or piece of art that has inspired you, and express gratitude for the creativity and impact it had on you.

Write about a personal goal you've achieved recently and acknowledge the hard work and determination that got you there.

Express gratitude for a valuable lesson you learned from a challenging experience, focusing on personal growth.

List three things about your daily surroundings that you're grateful for, whether it's a cozy corner or a favorite spot.

Reflect on a teacher or mentor who has positively influenced your life, and write about the guidance and support you've received.

Medical Disclaimer: The information on this site, including text, graphics, images, and other material, is provided solely for informational purposes and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other healthcare professional with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your specific condition.

Dr. Dawn's Wellness Tools social media handle @drdawnswellnesstools

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