What if I told you that one simple habit could foster incredible changes? That it could positively alter you outlook, your mood and your overall happiness with a tiny addition to your daily routine? What if this little activity could also improve your health and help you to achieve a more restful night sleep? Would you be in?
Heck yes, right? I mean… who would say no to all of that awesome!
The good news is that creating a gratitude practice can do just that. And while it may seem a little daunting at first, it’s actually not hard at all!
Let’s take a look at how to practice gratitude and all of the goodness this self-care activity has in store for you…
Before We Get Started
Practicing gratitude is an amazing form of self care. And, fantastic news, there are lots of different ways that you can do it. But I know that sometimes the idea of fitting something new into your routine can be pretty daunting.
Don’t you worry!
Most of the gratitude activities we’re going to talk about today are quick and easy and will barely cause a blip in your routine.
But if you’re struggling to create a self-care routine that makes you feel awesome and aren’t sure how to make a gratitude practice work I’ve got a free self-care routine planner that can help.
Oh, and because dessert, in my opinion, is a wonderful form of self-care, there’s a free Healthy Dessert Recipe E-Book in there for you too.
You can get your hands on all of the free goodness right here:
Awesome, right? Now let’s learn about how to practice gratitude and all the goodness it has to offer…
How Practicing Gratitude Makes You Feel Awesome
Sometimes the simplest things have the most powerful impacts. And gratitude is no exception. While it may seem implausible, practicing gratitude is a magnificent, life altering activity that you can easily tap into.
Plus it typically only takes a few minutes per day and will eventually leave you feeling so giddy and blessed that you’ll wonder why you haven’t been doing this your entire life. That’s one giant pile of awesome friends! Are you as excited as I am to dive in?
Before we talk about how to practice gratitude let’s take a peek at what it has to offer your health and well-being. Because it’s always marvelous to know that you have a ton to gain.
Here’s what you can look forward to:
Practicing Gratitude Can Help You Sleep Better
Practicing gratitude can help you catch more Zzz! Seriously – One study looked at 400 adults of all ages, 40% of whom had sleep disorders, and found that gratitude is one powerful sleep aid! Those who learned how to practice gratitude fell asleep faster, slept longer and felt better throughout the day. Total win! (source)
Gratitude was related to having more positive thoughts, and fewer negative ones at bedtime. Which made it easier to fall asleep with ease. Because a racing, worried mind doesn’t exactly shut down easily.
Now if only this could help me when I have a song stuck in my head and can’t stop singing (thinking?) along instead of sleeping… Tell me I’m not alone!
Practicing Gratitude Can Boost Your Mood
Training your mind to see the silver lining helps to reduce worry and nip pessimistic thoughts in the bud. (source)
Combine this with increased feelings of happiness and satisfaction and you’re working with gold (source).
One study even found that simply taking the time to acknowledge three good things that happened to you every day can drastically improve feelings of depression and increase overall happiness.
And gratitude works fast! Improvements in mood were seen in as little as two weeks. Isn’t that incredible? (source)
Practicing Gratitude Can Help You Be More Patient
That’s right! Looking on the bright side does a lot more than make you feel happy. You’ll find yourself feeling a lot more patient too.
A study from Northeastern University found that people who learned how to practice gratitude and appreciate the little things became more patient and made more sensible decisions. (source)
That’s a sweet little bonus, don’t you agree?
Practicing Gratitude May Improve Your Relationship
One of the cool things about gratitude is that it can be contagious. The goodness you foster will spread outward to those around you; when you are in a grateful, joyful space you spread that energy to friends and family.
But it goes further than that.
When you feel grateful for your partner (and vice versa) you begin to feel more connected. And, super bonus, you develop more satisfaction in your relationship. It’s like this powerful relationship booster shot! (source)
Oh, and if you’re thinking of telling someone you love how grateful you are for them, go for it! Writing them a letter expressing your feelings of gratitude can boost your feelings of happiness (and theirs too of course). And saying it in person has an even more powerful affect. (source)
Everybody wins when we share our gratitude!
Practicing Gratitude Can Help With Self-Care
When you feel grateful for the little things and train your mind to see the silver lining you tend to make your own self-care a higher priority. And that’s not just me speculating! This study found that people who experienced higher levels of gratitude were more likely to make self-care a priority. Including important activities like exercise, healthy eating and visiting the doctor. Booyah!
It seems like there’s a strong correlation between feeling grateful and taking care of yourself. Which is pretty amazing, because self-care is so incredibly important and we all deserve a little more of it.
Practicing Gratitude Creates Lasting Happiness
Sometimes happiness is fleeting. You read a good book and the joy sticks with you for a bit, but fades away. The happy boost after an sweet compliment from a friend sticks with you for a while only to disappear.
It’s totally natural (we can’t be happy all the time after all). But the happiness created by a gratitude practice is a little different.
According to Emma Seppälä, Science Director for Stanford Center For Compassion and Altruism Research and Education, Co-Director of Wellness for the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, happiness researcher and author of The Happiness Track:
“Gratitude is something that leads to much more sustainable forms of happiness, because it’s not based in that immediate gratification; it’s a frame of mind,” (source)
And that’s the key.
When you learn how to practice gratitude you learn how to create a grateful state of mind.
Practicing gratitude is about retraining your mindset and learning to marvel in awe at the goodness that surrounds you. Practice makes perfect; you will find that after a while you’ll be able to carry the essence of gratitude with you throughout the day.
Learning how to practice gratitude doesn’t mean that you’ll be happy all the time. You’ll continue to experience an array of emotions. Life happens and feelings like sadness and frustration are normal and healthy to express. A grateful mindset is not about denying your negative emotions. It’s about making gratitude your default setting.
But how do you do it? Let’s take a look at a few ways that you can practice gratitude.
How To Practice Gratitude
1. Appreciate The Little Things
It’s so important to know that practicing gratitude doesn’t mean that we focus on the big things. There are little things to be grateful for too. Tons and tons of them. And learning how to practice gratitude starts with appreciating it all and realizing that nothing is too small to be thankful for.
The things you feel grateful for can be as little as listening to your cat’s purr or as simple as enjoying the weather. Include everything and anything.
The smallest things can have the most powerful impact, after all. There’s gratitude to be had everywhere, so long as we’re willing to look.
2. Try To Find Gratitude In Difficult Situations
This one is admittedly hard. And sometimes it’s easier to find gratitude in a difficult situation after the fact. We’re able to reflect on a negative experiences and see how it helped to shape us into the fantastic people we are today.
When you’re ready, it’s so worth it to take a moment to revisit some past hardships, dig deep and find a silver lining.
This little gratitude practice has done so much for me.
I always say that I’m grateful for Graves Disease. And I’ve certainly received my fair share of confused responses to that. While I wouldn’t consider this incurable illness a gift (because I definitely wouldn’t give it to you), it’s helped to shape who I am.
Graves Disease taught me to love and value myself, make my health and well-being a priority and feed myself with kindness. It changed my outlook and it changed me. It’s even the reason I started Ms. Health-Esteem and began to work to inspire others to love themselves and cherish their health too.
While being so ill was an incredibly difficult experience, mentally, physically and emotionally, I wouldn’t be who I am today without it. This autoimmune disease has been an amazing teacher. And for all of that I am grateful.
While I definitely wasn’t ready to come to this realization early on, learning how to practice gratitude included reflecting on my autoimmune journey and coming to this conclusion.
Super bonus, it’s helped me come to terms with my illness. Seeing things in a new, grateful light allowed me to move forward with more positivity than I ever could have imagined.
Isn’t is wonderful how powerful a little grateful reflection can be?
3. Gratitude Journal
This sweet little self-care activity helps you create a wonderful gratitude foundation. I’m personally very tactile and love to write (shock and awe!) Gratitude journaling is one of my favourite ways to maintain a positive mindset. Plus, when you write things down they tend to stick.
Gratitude journaling is something you can easily add to your self-care routine. All you need is a journal, a pen and about 10 to 15 minutes to jot down some goodness.
Write down what you’re grateful for, who you are undeniably blessed to be surrounded by and positive quotes and affirmations that make you exude joy. It may be difficult at first, but you will find that your list will grow every time you sit down to create one.
You may be wondering how to practice gratitude journaling.
It can definitely be a little strange in the beginning. I know I was lost when I started!
You can absolutely pick up a blank journal and go to town! But if you need a guide to help you get started I highly recommend this gorgeous Gratitude Journal:
Gratitude Journal: 100 Days of Gratitude Will Change Your Life by the brilliant Natalie Fox is a lovely tool to get you started on your Gratitude journey.
Consider this book a guide walking you through your daily Gratitude Practice. The journal provides you with a space for daily declarations of gratitude, positive affirmations and love.
And it leaves tons of room to get creative, so you may want to dust off your pencil crayons if you’re so inclined. As if that weren’t enough awesomeness packed in one marvelous book, you will also find motivational quotes and extra joy inducing activities throughout.
This is one habit you won’t want to quit after 100 days. I personally adore my 100 Days of Gratitude Journal. And you can bet your bippy I bust out my pencil crayons and go to town. Colouring is good for you! 😉
This is my copy of 100 Days of Gratitude! It’s pretty full of goodness and always puts a smile on my face 🙂
Want to get your hands on a copy?
4. Practice mindfulness
Practicing mindfulness means that we are present in the moment. It includes focusing on what’s happening inside of your body and your mind and/or bringing your awareness to the world around you. But, most importantly, mindfulness is about being present and aware without criticism or judgment.
And you can easily use mindfulness as a wonderful way to practice gratitude.
Sit down for a few minutes and think about a few things you’re grateful for. If you find yourself struggling, start small. Even focusing on 1 or 2 things can have a huge impact.
Picture those things in your mind and allow yourself to really feel your gratitude. Sit with it for a few minutes and let that feeling take over.
You can take this one step further and meditate on those feelings, taking deep breaths in and out and focusing on all of the beautiful things (big and small) that make you feel grateful. The coolest thing is that doing this on the regular can actually rewire your brain, helping you naturally feel more happy and grateful. So cool, right? (source)
Trust me, it will leave you feeling so awesome you’ll be hooked. I have a whole post about mindfulness meditation waiting for you right here if you’d like to know how to get started.
5. Express Gratitude
One of the easiest pieces of advice that I can give you on how to practice gratitude is to simply express it. It’s the gift that keeps on giving, because expressing gratitude to the people you love only helps to make you feel more grateful (and makes them feel damn good too!)
If that sounds too good to be true, check this out:
This experiment found that when someone writes a letter expressing their gratitude to someone their levels of happiness increase by 2 to 4%. Even better, if they told the person how they felt over the phone they felt even better (4 to 19% to be exact).
Telling someone you’re grateful for them is good for both of you.
Express that gratitude and enjoy all the good feels. You deserve it!
What’s your favourite tip on this ‘How to Practice Gratitude List’? Did any of the health benefits surprise you? What advice would you add to the list? Share your goodness with us in the comments below!
Health and love,
Thought of the day: I greet the world with a grateful heart, reveling in the wonders that surround me.
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A HUGE thank you to Natalie Fox for sharing her marvelous Gratitude Journal with us. I’ve had a blast filling the pages with gratitude.