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The mental health benefits of gratitude

When we practice gratitude on a regular basis, it not only impacts our mental and physical health, but those around you.
(Photo via Nationwide Children's Hospital)

Sponsored by: Nationwide Children's Hospital

You may have heard the saying attitude of gratitude. It’s a great little rhyme to remind us that we live a life of gratitude – and practice it! When we practice gratitude on a regular basis, it not only impacts our mental and physical health, but those around you.

Gratitude is the quality of being thankful and showing appreciation for what we have. At a time when many of us are struggling to adapt to a new normal, practicing gratitude is more important than ever.

Showing gratitude has the following mental health benefits:

  1. Expressing gratitude can improve your mood. People who regularly express gratitude for the positive things in their life are shown to be happier overall, leading to lower rates of stress and depression.
  2. Showing gratitude can make you more optimistic. Studies show that those who express gratitude regularly appear to have a more positive outlook on life.
  3. Sharing gratitude can improve social bonds. People have reported feeling more loved and more connected to others in their lives when they routinely practice gratitude or those around them practice gratitude.
  4. Practicing gratitude can improve your physical health. People who actively express gratitude tend to be more engaged in activities to take care of their physical health, like eating well and exercising. This leads to higher energy levels, better sleep and a stronger immune system, or the ability to fight off illness or infection.

How can your family practice gratitude? The first thing is to build gratitude into your daily schedule – and practice it! Here are a few ways you can practice gratitude to improve the overall well-being of your family and those around you.

  1. Start your day by writing down one thing that went well the previous day and why it went well. You can do this while eating breakfast or before you start on work or schoolwork. Writing it down is important because it is a record of what happened that you can refer back to. This allows you to reflect on your actions and continue growing.
  2. Most of us feel frustrated by something in a normal day. When you find yourself feeling upset or frustrated, hit the pause button and reset your thinking. Come up with something positive about the situation or think about something else entirely that you are thankful for.
  3. Go around the dinner table and have each person state something general they are thankful for, and something specific to that day that they are thankful for.
  4. Share your gratitude with others by writing a note to someone you are grateful for.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and practicing gratitude is just one way you can improve your mental and physical health. Find more resources on gratitude, including the Growing Our Gratitude activity, at OnOurSleeves.org.

This article was originally published on 700 Children's® – A Blog by Pediatric Experts.