I don’t think this has quite been the year that everyone is hoping it would be. For some, this may even be the hardest year yet.
In one way or another, you have been impacted by the events that have resulted this year, whether that’s the global pandemic we can’t seem to contain, social isolation, the downward spiral of our economy, or from racial injustice.
First and foremost, the fact that racism still exists is pathetic.
So, yes, 2020 has definitely come with its challenges. As a result, our mental well-being has suffered.
In just the United States:
- 40% of people have experienced a mental or behavioral health condition related to the coronavirus epidemic.
- 1 in 4 have experienced symptoms of depression—4X higher than previous years.
- 1 in 10 had considered suicide at some point during the last 30 days—an increase of 100% from previous years.
- 13.3% of Americans have begun or increased substance use to cope with stress related to the epidemic.
Now, mind you that this is only in the US. The rest of the world is experiencing the same pandemic we are.
That’s why, during this holiday season, it’s more important than ever to spend time with family, to cherish the present moment you are in, and to express gratitude for all that you are blessed within your life. Despite how the past 8 months have been, use this month to make your mental health a priority, to get back to living a healthier life both physically and mentally, and to express how grateful you are.
Now, let’s be clear, just because you express gratitude, it doesn’t mean that life is going to be perfect. You might still suffer from with anxiety, depression, the loss of a loved one, an illness, or any other horrific event. Gratitude itself isn’t going prevent these events from happening, but it may help to diminish the severity they bring. Gratitude is the one thing you can do right away to turn around how you are feeling about life.
The Benefits of Gratitude
So why be grateful? Why practice gratitude and what benefits can practicing gratitude have on your life?
Not only are there numerous mental health benefits that are associated to practicing gratitude, but there are also many physical benefits as well.
Let’s start out with just a few of the benefits:
Gratitude forces us to be present.
Gratitude helps to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression.
Gratitude helps us to feel happier in life without anything drastically changing.
Gratitude improves our self-confidence and our self-esteem.
Gratitude allows us to see the world in a positive light and helps us to be optimistic.
Gratitude helps us to improve our relationships with those whom we love the most.
Gratitude can help reduce the risk of heart disease, and overall, helps establish healthy behaviors.
How to Practice Gratitude
With all of the health benefits that one may experience as a result of practicing gratitude, it kind of makes you wonder why we’re not all practicing gratitude – or if we are, why we aren’t doing it more consistently.
I believe the reason why a lot of individuals aren’t practicing gratitude is for the sheer fact that they don’t know how. They don’t understand just how easy it is to practice gratitude, and instead, they think it’s more complex than it really needs to be.
Practicing gratitude isn’t rocket-science. Practicing gratitude is actually supposed to be a simple practice that we can all implement into our daily lives.
So how can you start practicing gratitude?
Here are some of the things that I have done in the past:
- Start a gratitude journal (write down 5 things you are grateful for every morning).
- Go out of your way and do one random act of kindness each day.
- Take 5 minutes out of the middle of the day to stop and reflect.
- Smile more, even when it’s hard.
- Tell your family you love them more often.
- Say thank you for anything and everything.
- Meditate with your gratitude list, giving thanks for all your good fortune.
Any of these ideas above would be helpful. There are also a lot of other things you can do to start practicing gratitude.
I have committed myself to starting my morning out by taking a walk with no distractions just to see and hear the sound of the world. It helps me to slow down and to start my day off on a peaceful note.
But maybe a different approach would work better for you. Really, it doesn’t matter what you choose to do, all that matters is that you just get started.
As we are all experiencing high levels of stress and uncertainty in the midst of a chaotic world, just remember that there is always, always, always something to be thankful for. Forget about the pandemic we are in, elections, and the winter months ahead, and just be present here today. The sooner we get started in recognizing all of the good in life, the sooner we’ll discover even more.