It's November, the holiday season is quickly approaching, and it's time to get grateful. We're all familiar with the idea of being thankful, and gratitude is deeply ingrained in our society, but the idea of actively practicing gratitude is difficult for a lot of people to understand.
If you are in need of some additional inspiration to begin your own gratitude practice, here is everything you need to know about the effects of appreciation and gratitude on your mental health.
Gratitude improves empathy.
Empathy is defined as the ability to feel or relate to the emotions of others. It's an essential tool for crafting a positive social environment, and a lack of empathy can cause a host of interpersonal problems. People who actively practice gratitude are more sensitive to the emotions of others, and by practicing gratitude, you can improve both your own outlook on life and your interactions with the people around you.
Pro tip: Reserve some time each day to be grateful for the people around you, and think about the specific joy they bring into your life.
Being more thankful can improve sleep.
We've all had those nights when all the worries from the day bombard us the moment we lie down. All those thoughts can keep us awake and interfere with valuable sleep that we need to be healthy. Practicing gratitude, in the words of the study "counting blessings not burdens," can help keep those thoughts at bay and let you sleep longer and deeper.
Pro Tip: Try writing down a few things you're thankful for before bed each night; it will quiet your racing mind and help you sleep more restfully.
Gratitude will raise your self-esteem.
For a lot of us, maintaining positive self-esteem is a constant struggle. But adding a touch of gratitude to each day can change your entire outlook and improve the dialogue you have with yourself. A study published in 2014 by the Journal of Applied Sport Psychology discovered that practicing gratitude had a positive effect on athletes' self-esteem.
Pro Tip: Actively practicing gratitude can make it easier to celebrate the accomplishments of others—without the comparisons.
Practicing gratitude can make you mentally tough.
Inevitably, events in our lives will threaten to knock us down. Expressing gratitude after a traumatic event has been shown to improve both mental strength and your ability to heal. A number of studies have shown the power of thanks for individuals seeking mental and emotional relief.
Pro Tip: Getting specific and being consistent with our gratitude can lead to a really positive outlook on life and improvements in our mental health—which is incredibly important.
Appreciativeness affects overall psychological health.
It's one thing to remove toxic people from your life, but the negative emotions it leaves behind can also be difficult to deal with. Practicing gratitude has been shown to help reduce toxic emotions and make them easier to process. Leading minds in the science of gratitude have discovered the strong link between gratitude and good psychological health and continue to preach the importance of being actively thankful every single day.
Pro Tip: Don't abandon your practice when life gets stressful or complicated, because no matter what, there is always something to be thankful for.
Practicing gratitude is so much more than just writing a thank you note; it's about being truly, sincerely grateful for each gift you receive—whatever form it comes in. Take the time to be grateful and to practice gratitude, and you may just find that it transforms your life.