Why Gratitude Is Beneficial for Mental Health
Gratitude is the way we express our appreciation. When we like our experiences, feelings, people, and things that surround us, we can express our emotions as gratitude. Words of gratitude can bring a smile to another person’s face, but its powerful impact on relationships is just one of its many benefits on our mental health.
It turns out that there is a clear connection between gratitude and mental health, as well as physical health. Open expression of gratitude can make you feel happier, improve your sleep, and help you cope with a variety of emotional issues.
Gratitude can be particularly beneficial for people with low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression because it allows a person to stop feeling sorry for themselves and focus on things that bring them positive emotions instead. Therefore, it’s no surprise that gratitude journaling is often used in therapy.
Gratitude and Mental Health
There is a lot of research data on the positive effects of gratitude for both mental and physical health. Being thankful and grateful allows you to improve your sleep and decrease stress. Researchers also found out that keeping a gratitude journal boosts generosity among adolescents and decreases materialistic attitudes.
Another study demonstrated that high school students who keep gratitude journals have healthier eating habits. Besides, gratitude can ease symptoms of depression and decrease the risk of developing heart diseases. Gratitude is a very important practice in positive psychology because it offers numerous benefits and takes very little time.
If you want to benefit from gratitude, writing gratitude lists is a great solution. You may thank your friends, relatives, or the whole universe for the good things in your life. You may or may not share your gratitude with others — different people may express gratitude differently.
Benefits of Gratitude
- Improved mood
Expressions of gratitude can boost your mood, so you can use them whenever you feel down. Just think of the things that you like about your life and focus on the positive experiences that bring you joy. No matter how small these things are, you can feel grateful for them and appreciate what you have.
Of course, gratitude alone cannot treat anxiety or depression, but it’s an effective practice that can help you focus on positivity and stop dwelling on unhelpful thoughts. There are many gratitude examples that fit different situations. Say thank you to people who help you or simply take a break to appreciate the things that bring you a sense of fulfillment.
By practicing gratitude, you can reflect on your day, month, or year. We are constantly surrounded by many stressors that hold our attention so it can be easy to forget about things that help us handle difficulties and brighten our mood.
For instance, if you’re stressed out because of an overwhelming workload, you may forget that being able to work and having a stable income are already great things, and many people would like to have the same job as you. Similarly, your relationships with friends or relatives also allow you to reflect on the positive aspects of your everyday life that you may take for granted.
3. More relationships
According to research, saying thank you to new acquaintances allows you to not only show your good manners but also build relationships because it makes people more likely to seek an ongoing social relationship with you.
Whether it be thanking a taxi driver or your colleague who helped you with a challenging project, appreciating other people’s efforts is a great opportunity to show that you value them. Gratitude is an integral part of friendship and other relationships.
4. Decreased aggression and improved empathy
Gratitude boosts prosocial behavior and empathy, even if others don’t demonstrate kind behavior. Researchers found out that people who express gratitude are less likely to engage in retaliation, even when being criticized by others. By being thankful and grateful, you can also boost your empathy and manage irritability.
5. Increased resilience
Not only can gratitude reduce stress and help you cope with its effects, but it can also help overcome trauma. A 2006 study showed that Vietnam War veterans who had high levels of gratitude also had low rates of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Another study demonstrated that gratitude was one of the main factors that increased resilience after terrorist attacks. In other words, gratitude makes you mentally stronger, minimizing the impact of stressors, even when they take extreme forms.
6. Higher self-esteem
There is also a less obvious connection between gratitude and self-esteem. According to a 2014 study that focused on coaching and athletes’ performance, gratitude can improve self-esteem and contribute to trust.
7. Better sleep
Gratitude can also improve your sleep. If you have problems with falling asleep, keeping a gratitude journal might be a great practice that will help you quiet your mind before going to bed and distract you from worries.
As you can see, gratitude and mental health are connected, and simple words “I am grateful” can benefit your mental health in many ways. Gratitude can make you feel happier, help you deal with stress, and improve your self-esteem.
Gratitude journaling is just one of many practices that can help you stay mentally healthy. It’s important to keep in mind that there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to mental health, and any practices can be more or less effective for each particular person.
Self-care is an important part of the treatment process, but if you have depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues, the best solution is to seek therapy. A licensed therapist can help you figure out the causes of your problems and suggest the most effective coping strategies that will work for you.
While people with tight work schedules might find it difficult to commute to a therapist’s office, online therapy platforms like Calmerry allow everyone to get the necessary help from virtually anywhere. Learn more about the benefits of talk therapy to prepare for your first session.