When you are experiencing anxiety or grief, you may have trouble thinking of things to feel grateful for in your daily life. But practicing gratitude can help you deal with your emotions, which can improve your mental health.
When you show gratitude, you express your thanks for something. You shift your focus from your head, which triggers grief and anxiousness, to your heart. Feeling the optimism associated with gratitude may give you the ability to manage your stress better and make coping in the wake of a loss a little easier.
You can adopt a gratitude practice that helps you navigate your grief and anxiety. By distracting yourself from negative thoughts, you gain positive results.
The Benefits of Gratitude for Your Brain
Focusing on the positive can change your brain for the better. Feelings of thankfulness can spark dopamine production, which lifts your mood and makes you feel good. When you experience the release of dopamine, your mind and body will want to reach that feeling again. The motivation for practicing gratitude will come from that unmistakable lift.
Gratitude can have other side effects beneficial to mental health as well. Studies have linked gratitude to improved sleep, warding off anxiety and decreasing the intensity of grief. When you are well-rested, you can recognize and use strategies to deal with your grief or anxiety.
How to Practice Gratitude Daily
When you have strong feelings that overshadow other aspects of your life, you may not be sure where to start with your gratitude practice. Begin by using these three ideas.
1. Write in a Gratitude Journal Every Day
Start small by recording one thing you feel thankful for each night before you go to bed. Your choice doesn’t have to be something big. It could be as small as enjoying a piece of chocolate after lunch or spending time with a loved one you haven’t seen in a while.
2. Pen a Letter of Thanks
Everyone has important people who have impacted them in profound and powerful ways. Have you ever taken the time to thank this person? Chances are they don’t know how much they mean to you. Take a few minutes to draft a letter outlining the impact that person has made on your life. You can decide whether or not to send the letter, but just writing it will help you feel grateful.
3. Volunteer for a Cause You Believe In
Sometimes seeing how fortunate you are compared to others can make you feel thankful for what you have. And often doing something for someone else will lift your spirits, too.
See How Gratitude Can Improve Mental Health With Treatment
Gratitude and happiness can be a part of your life, even if you are going through a difficult time. If you are struggling with anxiety or grief, our team of mental health professionals at Taylor Counseling Group can help. Schedule an appointment at one of our Central Texas locations today to learn more about the connection between gratitude and better mental health.