This month at Cold Lake High School we are focusing on Gratitude.
What Is Gratitude?
While it can look a little different from one person to another, gratitude is generally defined as a disposition or characteristic that allows an individual to perceive and appreciate the positive and meaningful aspects of life.
4 Mental Health Benefits of Gratitude
Gratitude Can Help Regulate Your Emotions
Research suggests gratitude plays a role in a person’s ability to identify and regulate emotions, with some studies pointing to a possible relationship between gratitude and emotional intelligence.
When we focus our attention on the good in our lives, the components that are making us feel sad or worried are minimized. This perspective can give us a sense of emotional freedom and serenity, regardless of what we face.
Gratitude Can Elevate Your Mindset
When someone feels grateful—which can be described as a positive emotion in itself—research shows they tend to experience more positive feelings overall. Some studies also find that building gratitude practices into psychotherapy sessions can actually help promote a positive cognitive mindset because the focus shifts from negative experiences to more positive ones.
Gratitude Can Help You Feel More Connected to Others
Gratitude may help people feel more connected to others and the world around them, which can lead to increased happiness and decreased loneliness.
Research backs that point, with studies finding that gratitude can help promote emotional closeness and the maintenance of strong bonds in intimate and non-intimate relationships. Additional studies suggest the expression of gratitude—and the coinciding ability to strengthen social bonds— may help reduce feelings of loneliness and disconnectedness.
Gratitude Can Motivate You Toward Better Outcomes
Research suggests gratitude exercises may, in fact, lead to more positive outcomes. Not only can they encourage health-promoting behaviors (like healthier eating), but they’ve also been found to inspire prosocial behavior (helping others). As an added benefit, prosocial behavior may lead to increased social support (i.e friends and acquaintances who are available and able to help you), which is another factor linked to improved mental health.
Tips for Practicing Gratitude for Mental Health
Keep a Gratitude Journal
Taking time each day to reflect on the things you’re thankful for can help increase overall well-being and life satisfaction. You don’t have to write every single thing you’re grateful for, either. Taking a few minutes a day to jot down a few of the things you feel thankful for in that moment should do the trick.
Appreciate the Intangible
One common form of gratitude is the feeling you get when you receive a gift from someone. But, as mentioned earlier, gratitude has different meanings, and it comes down to recognizing and acknowledging your appreciation for anything that provides you value or meaning.
Honor the Present Moment
In an ever-moving, social media-obsessed society, it can be hard to enjoy the gift of rest and stillness—but gratitude can help. Gratitude helps us slow down our nervous system and give ourselves permission to feel joy.
Perform Acts of Kindness for Others
Picking up litter, volunteering or paying it forward (which could be as simple as paying for the person behind you in line for coffee) all count as acts of kindness.
When Gratitude Doesn’t Work
For many people—especially those living with mental health conditions—practicing gratitude may feel challenging or may not seem to provide much of a benefit at all.
It’s important to remember that gratitude is just one tool that can help improve mental health. If gratitude alone doesn’t seem to be enough, it doesn’t mean that a person has failed.
If constant anxieties, worries or depressed feelings are making it difficult for you to access gratitude or other positive emotions, it may be time to speak with a mental health professional. While gratitude is a wonderful emotion, it’s not a substitute for therapy or medication, especially if you’re dealing with diagnosed conditions like depression or anxiety.
At Cold Lake High School we are grateful for every person who walk through our doors and for the wonderful community of which we are part.
For more information on gratitude please check out the following videos:
For more resources, check out the Gratitude page of the NLPS website.
If you would like me to connect with your child or your family, you can contact Miss MacDonald or Ms. Iroume at the school at 780-639-0039.