By Bria Mccalpin
May 18, 2023
Building a Habit of Gratitude
As we navigate daily living, there may be moments where we find ourselves feeling down or stuck, and not hopeful about our next steps. These difficult instances have multiple factors that contribute to them such as anxiety, stress, depression, and pain to name a few. At times of struggle, finding ways to cope can be challenging and a lot of people don’t know where to start. Like self-care and self-love, finding gratitude is practice. There are multiple benefits to practicing gratitude on a consistent basis, including better sleep, lower blood pressure, feeling less lonely and isolated, and developing a greater sense of patience and helpfulness. Introducing the habit of gratitude in your life can be a relieving and uplifting experience, so here are a few exercises you can use to start implementing this practice in your life.
Journaling is a common technique for coping with a variety of issues. The difference with a gratitude journal is that the focus is on your positive experiences. You can take a few days out of your week to write a detailed entry about one thing you are grateful for. This can include a person, job, experience, or anything else you can think of. You can be grateful for simple things like a good meal, or bigger things like overcoming an obstacle. Take your time with this intervention and explain why you are grateful; this could take about 10 to 20 minutes depending on what you’re writing about. Here are some prompts you can use for your journal:
- The best part about today…
- Something I’m proud of…
- Someone I admire…
- An act of kindness I witnessed or experienced…
- A fun experience I had…
For those who are artistic or want a hands-on experience, a gratitude jar can be another activity to incorporate into your life. All you would need is a jar or container, a few art supplies of your choice, and blank strips of paper. You can customize your jar with decorations such as pictures, stickers, glitter, ribbons, you name it. After decorating, use the strips of paper to write a few statements acknowledging what you are thankful for or what you appreciate, and add it to your jar. Take some time to reflect on your statements when adding them and this could become a daily routine for you.
Three Good Things
Sometimes life can be busy, and you do not have time for journal entries or writing in a jar, so this intervention can be beneficial for those who have less time in their day. Remove yourself from obvious distractions such as phones or TVs to spend some time reflecting on the good things from your day. This is something that can be done while driving, washing dishes, brushing your teeth, or meditating. Like its namesake, you are going to think of 3 things you are grateful for. Choose one experience and contemplate on how this made you feel at the time. Explore what you believe caused this event to occur and ways you could possibly experience it again or more often varying on what it is.
There are so many different ways to express gratitude, even in the mundane. When you begin to implement the habit of gratitude, you may find that it’s a useful coping strategy for life stressors and more. If you find yourself resonating with the gratitude activities presented, or hope to work on integrating gratitude further into your life, receiving extra support in making gratitude a practice can be incredibly helpful. Consider setting up an appointment with one of Optimum Joy’s therapists!
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