The Power in Practicing Gratitude

As the holidays approach, gratitude is a word we hear more and more frequently. Gratitude is not just for the holidays, however: it’s a powerful force that can transform your outlook on life, boost your mental well-being, and enhance your overall happiness. In fact, neurological studies show that anxiety and gratitude can’t coexist in the brain at the same time, making its practice a valuable therapeutic technique. Below are simple practices you can pass along to your clients or even incorporate into your own routine:

Start a Gratitude Journal

Gratitude is a practice we can use at any time – even when we’re not feeling it. Each day, take a few moments to reflect on the things you’re grateful for and jot them down. These can be small, everyday occurrences like a beautiful sunrise, a kind word from a friend, or the taste of your morning coffee. This simple act has the power to shift from a mindset of anxiety to one more positive. For clients who are feeling hopeless, this is a simple yet proactive way to take power over anxious thoughts.

Mindful Moments

In the hustle and bustle of daily life, it’s easy to rush through activities without truly appreciating them. Practicing mindfulness can help you savor the present moment and recognize the beauty in the ordinary. When eating, pay attention to the taste, texture, and aroma of your food. When walking, notice the sensation of your feet hitting the ground. Mindful moments can be a powerful reminder of the simple joys all around us.

Express Your Gratitude

Share gratitude with others. Let friends, family, and colleagues know how much you appreciate them and the positive impact they’ve had on your life. It could be a heartfelt thank-you note, a compliment, or a simple “I appreciate you.” In a therapy session, you can ask your client at the beginning or end of each session what they’re grateful for. Being a space for them to share their gratitude with you will increase connection both in your client/patient relationship and their relationship with the world as a whole.

Shift Your Perspective

Gratitude often involves looking at life from a different perspective. When facing challenges or setbacks, try to find the silver lining. Ask yourself what you can learn from the situation or how it might lead to personal growth. A shift in perspective can turn difficulties into opportunities for gratitude.

Give Back

One of the most profound ways to practice gratitude is by giving back to others. Volunteering, helping a friend in need, or donating to a charitable cause can instill a profound sense of thankfulness. When you give to others, you not only make a positive impact on their lives but also gain a deeper appreciation for your own.

Anxiety traps us when we try to chase it down to its conclusion, leading to these anxious spirals in our minds and bodies. And it can often feel impossible to escape. The practice of gratitude, however, can provide that relief we’re looking for.

Practicing gratitude isn’t about ignoring life’s challenges or difficulties. It’s about cultivating a mindset that allows you to see the beauty, kindness, and abundance that coexist with those challenges. So this holiday season, when someone asks you what you’re most thankful for, take a moment to reflect on your answer: you may find this simple act can begin to transform your world.

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