The holidays are naturally a time where people think about all they have to be thankful for. If 2020 has taught us anything, it has taught us to appreciate the little things in life. 2020 has shown us that when you take a step back from the materialistic and chaotic world around us, you are left with nothing but yourself and the village you surround yourself with. So as we enter a new year it is so important that we learn from the lessons we learned in 2020 and continue through 2021 practicing gratitude everyday in order to build a better world for ourselves and our children.
HOW THE ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE CAN IMPROVE YOUR LIFE:
Self care is something that as parents is often overlooked. How can you be able to be the best guardian for our kids, if you are running on empty? Spending a few minutes developing and practicing an attitude of gratitude can help reframe your outlook on life and adapt to anything thrown your way. Gratitude is defined as: the quality of being thankful or readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness. But gratitude doesn’t just feel good in the moment, it can actually be good for us in the long run too. Here are some of the benefits of incorporating the gratitude attitude into your everyday life:
Strengthens your social relationships:
Connection is so important to mental and physical well being. Practicing gratitude can help improve relationships with friends and family by building connection, trust and intention. Let’s be real, innately as human beings, we want to be accepted and appreciated, right? Well the gratitude attitude foundationally focuses on noticing, thinking, reflecting, and acting in ways that show others how grateful you are. Naturally, when you are building others up and appreciating what others are doing, more people want to be around you. As a result a gratitude attitude can increase social support and widen social networks.
Improves your physical health:
Did you know that being grateful and practicing an attitude of gratitude you can reduce your blood pressure, aid in recovery, and strengthen your immune system. And bonus points, gratitude can help you get fit! A research study in 2003, showed that participants who practiced gratitude regularly were more likely to exercise (Emmons, McCullough, and Tsang, 2003).
Improves your mental health:
Talking about the importance of physical health has long been a ‘hot topic’, but we don’t talk often enough about the importance of prioritizing our mental health. Heather Craig from Positive Psychology directly talks about the link between gratitude and love/happiness. Gratitude is a positive emotion. As you practice gratitude, you actually feel better. Research shows that actively reflecting on what you are grateful for each day can is linked to well being. Gratitude can reduce stress, assist in overcoming trauma, and help prevent internalizing symptoms of anxiety or depression (Stoeckel, Weissbrod, & Ahrens, 2015) Most importantly, having an attitude of gratitude can give you the tools to more easily deal with difficult life situations. Seems pretty simple: better mental health is imperative for a better life.
Improves your self esteem:
Self esteem is the confidence in one’s own worth or abilities and it is something we are all working on each day. Displaying a high level of gratitude can improve your self esteem by enhancing positive emotions, and can make you feel more resilient (Amin, 2014). In addition, some research shows that gratitude can reduce social comparisons and envy. It is important to not just be grateful for what you have, but for who you are and what you have accomplished. By practicing gratitude, you can reframe our mindset to appreciate other people’s accomplishments and believe in yourself more wholly.
Improves your sleep:
Focusing on what you have rather than focusing on what you don’t can help your brain and body reach a more relaxed state, which in turn can prepare you to sleep better and longer. Lack of sleep can impact your physical, mental, and psychological health. And let’s be honest, the quote “I woke up on the wrong side of the bed” didn’t come out of no where, we need sleep to be at our best!
At the end of the day, having an attitude of gratitude just makes you feel better – and who doesn’t want that? It can make you more optimistic, builds empathy, strengthens relationships, improves self esteem, builds purpose, and overall allows you to be more present in the chaos of our day to day. And hey, if we cannot take care of ourselves, how can we take care of our kids? So take a few minutes each day to strengthen your gratitude attitude and start changing you life.
To learn how to practice the gratitude attitude yourself and promote development of an attitude of gratitude with your kids, check out our article HERE.
If you want to check out a few other blogs about the benefits of practicing gratitude, see below:
– Forbes: 7 Scientifically Proven Benefits of Gratitude
– Teens Health: What is Gratitude
– Psychology Today: Gratitude
– Positive Psychology: Gratitude link to love and happiness
Hi, I am an occupational therapist at South Shore Therapies. I specialize in pediatirc brain injury and stroke, but love working with all families to help kids reach their optimal potential. Our mission with SST’s social media platform is to empower, educate and inspire families to take on life’s challenges while promoting an optimistic outlook and a brighter future.