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How Gratitude Improves Mental Health

Gratitude is something most of us have heard of, but it’s easy to overlook this simple yet profound practice. Research has shown that expressing gratitude can have significant benefits for mental health. When we consciously acknowledge the things we are thankful for, our brains release dopamine and serotonin, bodily chemicals that are associated with feelings of happiness and contentment. What’s more, when we start practising gratitude regularly, we might notice a change in how we see life. We begin to notice and appreciate the beauty and good things around us more often. This can lead to big changes in how happy and content we feel overall.

Benefits of Gratitude

Improved Psychological Wellbeing

Regular gratitude practice is associated with higher levels of positive emotions, including joy, optimism, and satisfaction with life. Grateful individuals tend to experience greater overall psychological well-being and report lower levels of depression, anxiety, and stress.

Better Physical Health

Research suggests that gratitude is not only beneficial for mental health but also for physical health. Grateful individuals are more likely to engage in health-promoting behaviours, such as exercise, healthy eating, and regular medical check-ups, leading to better overall health outcomes.

Strengthened Relationships

Expressing gratitude can strengthen social connections and foster positive relationships. Grateful individuals are more likely to show appreciation towards others, leading to enhanced interpersonal bonds and a greater sense of belonging.

Increased Happiness

Gratitude has been linked to increased levels of happiness and life satisfaction. By focusing on the positives in life and appreciating the blessings we have, individuals can cultivate a greater sense of happiness and fulfilment.

So, how can we add some gratitude to our day-to-day lives? The good news is that there are many quick and easy ways to start. Let’s see some examples:

Say Thank You!

Whether it’s a friend who listened to your problems, a family member who cooked you a meal, or a teacher who offered guidance, a simple “thank you” can go a long way in showing appreciation. It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture – a heartfelt “thank you” can make someone’s day and strengthen your relationship with them.

Reflect Before Bedtime

Before you go to bed each night, take a few moments to reflect on the good things that happened during the day. Think about the moments that brought you joy, the people who made you smile, and the things you appreciate. This practice of counting your blessings can help shift your focus from any negative experiences of the day to the positives.

Keep a Gratitude Journal

Consider keeping a gratitude journal where you can regularly write down the things you’re thankful for. At the end of each day, take a few minutes to jot down three things you’re grateful for. It could be something as simple as a delicious meal or a kind word from a friend. This can help reinforce feelings of gratitude and provide a tangible reminder of the good things in your life.

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About the author Jowena:

Jowena has rich bicultural experience having grown up in the United States for over 16 years before moving back to Singapore permanently in 2014. Her professional experience expands over seven years and includes work as a behavioural therapist, associate psychologist, and assistant manager at a private counselling centre. She has worked with children, adolescents, and young adults from a variety of populations ranging from special needs to prison services.