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Cultivating Gratitude

Blog post written by,

Dr. Bhritanie Jardine, Psy.D.

One of the single most important skills to learn to improve your mental health is how to cultivate gratitude. During the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, we are all encouraged to reflect on our lives and express what we are grateful for that year. It feels good, right? Well, what if I told you that you don’t have to wait for Thanksgiving to get the mood boosting effects of gratitude!

Countless research articles give evidence of the positive impacts a daily gratitude practice can have on our mental and physical health. Some of these benefits include improved sleep quality, self-esteem, more meaningful connections, reduced aggression, reduce blood pressure, and much more! While you certainly can wake up every morning and start your day with a list of things you are grateful for, there are many additional creative ways of cultivating mindfulness and incorporating it into your daily life. Here are some of my favorites.

1. Gratitude Letters

· When it feels really challenging to cultivate gratitude towards yourself, it is often easier to start by expressing gratitude towards others. Pick one or two people in your life that are important to you and write them a letter detailing why you are grateful to have them in your life. Not only will you make their day, it will deepen your connection with them, and you will feel better as well!

2. Gratitude Box

· Get creative with decorating a box or jar in your home where you will add things that you are grateful for throughout the day as you think of them. The key to this one is put the box in plain site, so you have that reminder often. You should also keep a pen and notepad beside it to easily write down what’s coming to mind when you pass by the box. My favorite addition to this gratitude exercise is emptying it out at the end of each week or month and reading all of the big and little things you noticed yourself feeling grateful for!

3. Body Gratitude

· In our society, bodies are often glorified or demonized simply based on what it looks like, yet our bodies are so much more than just walking art. In this exercise I ask people reflect on all of the things their body does for them and cultivate gratitude towards its direct impact on your ability to function daily and its life sustaining design. For example, bringing awareness to and feeling grateful for your eyesight allowing you to read this blog right now, and for your lung automatically breathing for you as you read.

Which one of these exercises you chose is not as important as how consistently you practice it. Even spending just 5 minutes a day engaged in one of the above options can bring you the positive effects associated with daily gratitude. Plus, engaging in an intentional daily gratitude practice trains your mind to more automatically search for and acknowledge things in your life you are grateful for! Now that’s a positive cycle I can get excited about!



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