Being grateful doesn’t have to happen just once a year around a holiday table—in fact, being grateful helps your health year-round. Some days are easier to connect with things to be grateful for, some days may not be, but the more gratitude is practiced, the more it becomes a habit. It’s a mindset that can have powerful mental and physical health effects when incorporated into daily life.
Finding gratitude in times of stress and in future difficulties has been proven to lower blood pressure, improve immune functions, and reduce depression and anxiety.
Gratitude also tends to lead to higher energy and spread to those around you, which not only helps others, but brings even more positive benefits back to you.
Here are some easy tips to get you started if you don’t already have your own favorite way of seeking that positive way of looking at things in your life:
Build a routine
Is it easier for you to think of something first thing in the morning to get your day started right? Not a morning person? How about ending the day with something that you felt grateful for? Even taking a pause during your day and checking in to find something that makes you feel good will certainly work if you are more of a spontaneous type—just make sure it’s a consistent daily routine. Remember, it doesn’t have to be something particularly about that day; it can be about absolutely anything in your life that you can find that you are thankful for.
Use your words mindfully
It can be as simple as “please”, “thank you”, “you’re welcome” and "have a nice day." If those are things that you usually automatically say, you might not notice the effect it’s having on the person you’re saying it to. Next time you start to use those words, try to notice yourself using them and pay attention to the reaction you get from the other person. Sometimes seeing gratitude others have for your actions and words bounces back to you.
Slow down. Look around.
It makes it easier to see what’s in front of you. Calm your mind for a moment and think of something that you are grateful for. This will take away some of the holiday stress that we so often get caught up in.
Make a gratitude mini notebook or journal
You can even staple a bunch of scrap paper together and write down a thing or two a day. This serves two purposes. First, you’ll be thinking of something positive in the moment. Later on, if you’re having a difficult day, you can go back over those notes and see how much gratitude you’ve built up through time.
How you choose to get that attitude of gratitude is up to you, and it’s fine to try a few different ways before finding a practice that fits your life. You have nothing to lose by trying out conscious gratitude, so why not start today?
Remember, it’s much easier to have gratitude during good times, but the test of your progress in this journey is when you can find something to be grateful for in difficult times. Make this a habit as soon as you can and you’ll be feeling better this holiday season and far beyond.