How being grateful is good for you
Nov. 21, 2022—We all get downhearted at times. When pessimism peers around the corner, taking the time to count your blessings—no matter how big or small—may give you a new perspective. This positive way of thinking may even be good for your mental health.
According to Mental Health America (MHA) and other experts, research suggests that intentional acts of gratitude can perk up your mood. For one, the positive feelings they evoke may crowd out negative thoughts that bring us down.
Showing gratitude also may trigger feel-good chemicals, like dopamine, reports HelpGuide. It's no wonder that grateful people tend to be optimistic. Gratitude has also been linked to better sleep, less loneliness, higher self-esteem and improved relationships.
Gratitude may help your physical health too. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), gratitude can lower blood pressure. And MHA reports that people who practice gratitude have fewer physical complaints.
5 ways to practice gratitude
Inspired to try a little gratitude? Consider the following suggestions. They're based on information from the AHA, HelpGuide and other health experts.
1. Keep a gratitude journal. Use a notebook, your phone or computer to jot down one or more things worth celebrating. This can be anything from something that made you smile to major positive events. Write in your journal at the end of each day or week.
2. Tell someone today what you appreciate about them. Express your gratitude to them in person or through a phone call, text or thank-you letter.
3. Smell the roses. Life moves quickly. Slow down and linger longer on the little moments. Maybe that's the taste and texture of a delicious meal, the vibrant colors of sunset, or the tenderness in a loved one's smile.
4. Use gratitude to counter negativity in the moment. When something brings you down, stop and think about something that's going your way.
5. Celebrate you. Think of one (or more!) things you like about yourself. Then stand before a mirror and say them aloud. Of all the things to be grateful for, you're right up there at the top.
- American Heart Association. "Simple Ways to Practice Gratitude Infographic." https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-lifestyle/mental-health-and-wellbeing/simple-ways-to-practice-gratitude.
- Mental Health America. "How Staying Positive Helps." https://www.mhanational.org/stay-positive.
- Helpguide.org. "Gratitude: The Benefits and How to Practice It." https://www.helpguide.org/articles/mental-health/gratitude.htm.
- National Alliance for Mental Health Wake County. "Looking to Improve Your Well-being? Try Practicing Gratitude." https://nami-wake.org/practicing-gratitude.
- National Alliance for Mental Health Dane County. Cultivating an "Attitude of Gratitude." https://www.namidanecounty.org/blog/2020/4/14/how-to-start-a-gratitude-journal.
- American Heart Association. "Thankfulness: How Gratitude Can Help Your Health." https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-lifestyle/mental-health-and-wellbeing/thankfulness-how-gratitude-can-help-your-health.