2020 has been a rough ride for most of us. A global pandemic, unemployment, economic difficulties, and even political turmoil seems to take the best of us.
With Thanksgiving around the corner, it seems legitimately hard to find reasons to be thankful for. However, recent studies prove that to overcome emotional fatigue or heaviness we must be grateful.
What is Gratitude?
Gratitude is defined as the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.
According to Robert Emmons, a scientific expert on gratitude studies at Berkeley, gratitude it’s an affirmation of goodness. We affirm that there are good things in the world, gifts, and benefits we’ve received.
Study: Giving Thanks is Medicinal
Recent studies show that being grateful – actively notice the good things in our lives – has an incredible power to ease anxiety and ameliorate mental heaviness.
A study at Berkeley found that people who regularly practice gratitude are mentally healthier, happier, less stressed, and build an ‘emotional bank account’ for the times when they have fewer blessings to count.
On the contrary, the emotions or “thoughts” that we repeatedly dwell on can become a constant mood and it will filter all the perceptions in our lives. Reason why, in hard or not so fun times, we must be more intentional on spotting the good that happens to us.
Gratitude Takes Practice
We understand that being thankful might not come out naturally for most of us, however, by shifting our focus, we can greatly shift our perception and emotions for good.
The following tips will help you practice gratitude in moments when you don’t feel like it:
- 3 Things: When you feel overwhelmed or anxious is easy to get carried by tragic thinking. However, you can fight this by naming out loud 3 good things that have happened to you during that day. A roof over your head, strength to move, the live of a loved one, etc. The point is to shift you attention from the bad, to something positive.
- Remember Your Lowest: This is something that for me works wonders. If I’m feeling stressed out, I try to remember times that I was at my lowest. Maybe when I was unemployed and recently graduated, or when I was in debt, or when my husband, father in law, and mother in law got infected with Covid-19. Those things help me ground myself and remember that I have been in worse conditions and I have come up stronger. Automatically, I feel uplifted, thankful, and relieved.
- Support a Friend: Complaint/negativity always seeks attention. A good way to fight anxiety or heaviness in our lives is by supporting a friend that is having a thought time. Days ago, I was feeling overwhelmed and somehow burned up. I was always complaining and finding reasons to see the bad in my situation. Last weekend I spoke with a friend that is going through serious hardship and by supporting and comforting her I also felt way better. I believe that the reason for this is because it allows us to change our focus from ourselves to somebody else, and because kindness always finds a way back to us.
- Pray/Meditate: According to different studies prayer, reduces anxiety, and increases our awareness of the good that we have in life. Another good reason to start the day with a time of meditation or prayer.
We believe that his simple exercises will help you feel less anxious, and overall happier with your life. Remember, that thanksgiving is a great opportunity to pause and take into account all the good things we have in life, so take the time to pond in that and your mental health will thank you.
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