This Fall, focus on gratitude
September 25, 2018
Fall is a season of change, from the colours of the trees to the weather, but Fall also brings a very special holiday, Thanksgiving. It’s a time to show gratitude while spending time with loved ones and enjoying a delicious dinner. Did you know that there are health benefits to being thankful and showing gratitude in your daily routine? According to scientists, counting your blessing year-round is good for your mental health and well-being1.
Taking the time to appreciate the things you have, both tangible and intangible, makes you feel more positive emotions, improves your health and can even build stronger relationships2. People who show gratitude are more positive and will try to see the good in each situation. Being in a thankful state of mind, one will also empathize more with others and be thoughtful of others feelings. A great start to being positive and thankful is a gratitude journal.
Spending as little as 15 minutes per day writing down what you are thankful for can make a huge difference in your physical health and relationships. Grateful people experience fewer aches and pains and report feeling healthier than other people3. Not surprisingly, these people tend to exercise more often, get regular checkups and even sleep better. Those who wrote in a gratitude journal before bed had improved sleep patterns and woke up less stressed. When we think about what we appreciate, the calming part of the nervous system is triggered which decreases cortisol levels, helping your body respond to stress, regulate blood sugar and fight infections4.
To start your gratitude journal, choose a format that works for you. Do you prefer handwriting or typing? With either option, you can decorate your journal with photos that make you feel happy, inspirational quotes or even include the names of people you are grateful for. Once you have the format and you’ve personalized your journal, choose a time of day and be consistent. If you prefer to start your day on a positive note, write in your gratitude journal after you finish getting ready in the morning. If you want to reflect on your day, write in your gratitude journal before you go to bed. Writing at the same time or in correlation with the same activity will help make this a part of your daily routine and quickly become a habit5.
When writing in your gratitude journal, list at least 3 to 5 things and be specific. The goal is to become aware of the things in your life for which you have to be grateful. At first, you may be generic and write ‘I’m thankful for my family’ which is certainly something to be thankful for, try to list why you are thankful for your family. E.g. ‘I am thankful for a family who loves and supports me’.
As writing in your gratitude journal becomes a part of your daily routine, encourage others around you to do the same.
- Psychology Today
- Positively Present