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Bloom Where You’re Planted: How Gratitude Can Boost Your Mental Wellbeing

Let’s face it, life can be tough. Between work pressures, relationship challenges, and the general anxieties of the modern world, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and lose sight of the good stuff. This is where mental health comes into play.Taking care of your mental wellbeing is just as important as taking care of your physical health.

But what if I told you there’s a simple practice that can significantly improve your mental outlook? Enter gratitude.

Research suggests that gratitude is not simply a cultural construct. It has deep roots that are embedded in our evolutionary history, our brains and DNA, and in child development.
-From “The Science of Gratitude,” a white paper prepared for the John Templeton Foundation by the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley

Gratitude isn’t just about feeling thankful for the big things in life, like a new job or a dream vacation. It’s about cultivating an appreciation for the everyday moments, the little things that often go unnoticed. It’s the warm sunshine on your face, the delicious cup of coffee in the morning, or the laughter shared with a loved one.

Here’s the science bit: research shows that practicing gratitude can have a profound impact on your mental health. Studies have found that gratitude can:

  • Reduce stress and anxiety
  • Boost happiness and life satisfaction
  • Improve sleep quality
  • Strengthen relationships
  • Increase exercise
  • Decrease doctors’ visits
  • Improve communication skills

In fact, studies show that gratitude can actually change the makeup of your brain.

And gratitude is more than just platitudes. Being thankful can have a profound impact on treatment for people with mental illness.

Depression and anxiety can be barriers to gratitude, making it a challenge to find reason to give thanks. Try to think of something, no matter how small, and start there.

So, how can you incorporate gratitude into your daily life? Here are a few tips:

  • Start a gratitude journal: Take a few minutes each day, before bed or first thing in the morning, to write down a few things you’re grateful for. It can be anything, big or small. Download our printable gratitude journal page.
  • Practice mindful appreciation: Throughout the day, take a moment to appreciate the simple things around you. Savor the taste of your food, feel the warmth of your clothes on a chilly day, or listen to the sounds of nature.
  • Try this guided gratitude meditation. 
  • Redirect thoughts: You may feel anxious, worried, sad, angry or frustrated during the day. When you notice negative thoughts, pause and notice something positive about your situation.
  • Express gratitude to others: Let the people in your life know how much you appreciate them. A handwritten note, a heartfelt phone call, or even a simple “thank you” can go a long way. Download our printable flat thank-you note: page 1, page 2.

Remember, gratitude isn’t about ignoring the challenges in life. It’s about acknowledging the good alongside the bad. By practicing gratitude, you can shift your perspective and cultivate a more positive outlook. This can empower you to better manage stress, anxiety and other mental health challenges.

Processing a life experience through a grateful lens does not mean denying negativity. It is not a form of superficial happiology. Instead, it means realizing the power you have to transform an obstacle into an opportunity. It means reframing a loss into a potential gain, recasting negativity into positive channels for gratitude.
Robert Emmons, How Gratitude Can Help You Through Hard Times

Taking care of your mental health is an ongoing journey. But by incorporating gratitude into your daily routine, you can equip yourself with a powerful tool to navigate life’s ups and downs and bloom wherever you’re planted.

Cultivate Gratitude with a Gratitude Jar

A gratitude jar is a simple yet powerful tool that can help you focus on the positive aspects of your life and boost your overall well-being. It’s a tangible way to collect and revisit your grateful moments, fostering a more optimistic outlook.

Step 2. Paint a plant motif on a glass jar with white acrylic painter. Here’s how to create and use a gratitude jar:

What you’ll need:

  • A jar (any kind will work, but a clear jar allows you to see what’s inside)
  • Slips of paper (cut up construction paper, index cards, or even sticky notes will do)
  • Pens or markers (optional: for decorating your jar)

Decorate your jar (optional):

Get creative and personalize your jar! You can use paint, markers, washi tape, or magazine clippings to write words like “gratitude,” “blessed,” or anything that inspires you.

Fill your jar with gratitude:

Throughout the day, take a moment to reflect on the things you’re grateful for. This could be anything big or small: a delicious meal, a kind gesture from a stranger, a good night’s sleep, or a friend who makes you laugh. Write down each thing you’re grateful for on a slip of paper.

Folding is optional:

Fold up the note or leave it unfolded – entirely up to you!

Add it to the jar:

Every night, or whenever you have a moment of appreciation, add your note to the jar.

Revisiting your gratitude:

There are a couple ways to revisit your gratitude:

  • Periodic pick-me-up: When you’re feeling down or stressed, take a moment to reach into your jar and read a few of your gratitude notes. Reflecting on the positive aspects of your life can help shift your perspective and boost your mood.
  • Gratitude ritual: Turn revisiting your jar into a regular ritual. You can do this weekly, monthly, or even yearly.Gather with friends and family, take turns picking notes, and share what you’re grateful for.

Benefits of a gratitude jar:

  • Simple and accessible: It’s a low-cost, easy-to-implement practice that anyone can do.
  • Boosts happiness: By focusing on the positive, you cultivate a more optimistic outlook.
  • Increases mindfulness: Encourages you to appreciate the little things in life.
  • Strengthens relationships: Sharing gratitude with others fosters connection.

Give it a try!

A gratitude jar is a simple yet effective tool to cultivate an attitude of gratitude. It’s a powerful reminder of all the good things in your life, even on the tough days. So grab a jar, start collecting your grateful moments, and watch your happiness bloom.

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