This November, as the weather turns cooler and we prepare to feast with family, it’s natural for our thoughts to turn toward being thankful. It’s nice to have a yearly reminder to give thanks for all that we have. But what if we could learn to incorporate gratitude into our day-to-day lives?
Studies have proven the importance of gratitude — feeling thankful can lead to better sleep, mood and immunity. In fact, expressing gratitude can have an enormous impact on both your mental and physical health, lowering incidences of depression, anxiety, chronic pain and even diseases.
When times are tough, it can be hard to practice gratitude. Yet there are small steps you can take to gradually shift your mindset, no matter where you are in your journey.Assume people always have the best intentions
It’s easy to get bogged down in negativity, especially when we’re feeling bad. A colleague’s comment might come off as slight. An observation about your kids could feel like a critique of your parenting. Instead of assuming the worst, try flipping the script and believing that others mean well. That doesn’t mean letting truly hurtful things go. Rather, consider that most of us are just doing our best. You’ll feel better for it.
Keep a daily gratitude journal
Acknowledging gratitude is an essential part of reaping its feel-good benefits. A gratitude journal is a wonderful tool that can help you truly see the blessings in your life. You can approach it in various ways — you can journal first thing in the morning to get the day started off on the right foot, or you can reflect on positive things that happened at the end of the day. The good news is that a gratitude journal can help you recognize the importance of celebrating both big and small things. You can reflect on getting that promotion, your child reaching a milestone, or simply watching a beautiful sunset while sipping delicious coffee.
Find tiny moments of happiness throughout your day
When it comes to happiness, it truly is the little things that make life beautiful. Big things are exciting, but they can be few and far between. Appreciating the little things can help you experience moments of pure joy. A phone call with an old friend, an impromptu dance party, a chocolate indulgence…none of these things are revolutionary, but they can bring you boosts of happiness that can add up to one amazing day.
Nature is healing. It reminds us that we are a small part of a vast world. Getting outside is especially important for those who work from home or stay home with kids. Take a moment in your day to step outside and breathe in the fresh air. Have coffee on your patio. Take the dog or baby for a walk. Or even take your gratitude journal outside and reflect on the beauty of nature. The time outdoors will refresh your mind and soul.
Hug your baby/fur baby/plant baby
Did you know that hugs can make you happier? It’s true — hugs trigger the release of oxytocin, or the cuddle hormone. Associated with happiness and less stress, oxytocin reduces your blood pressure and the production of stress hormones. The effect is especially potent for moms who hold their babies close.
Reconnect with your network
We get by with a little help from our friends…and colleagues and family. When you’re feeling down and finding it hard to see the good, take some time to reconnect with the people in your life. Doing so offers perspective, helping you see how far you’ve come and how your network has played an integral role in your development and growth.
Tell people how much they mean to you
We often assume that people we care about know how we feel. We figure they understand that we appreciate them. But words of affirmation are among the most powerful ways you can boost someone's confidence and transform their whole day.
In fact, words of encouragement from a partner can be instrumental in successful work-life integration for parents. In a recent report published by Werklabs, the research division of The Mom Project, moms and dads ranked verbal support from partners as the number one factor in co-parenting satisfaction. These words of gratitude can include encouragement, positive reinforcement, and validation. We’re all working hard and doing our best — hearing it said out loud makes people feel seen, and showing gratitude will make you feel better, too.
Do something nice for someone
Sometimes, showing how you feel can make more of an impact than simply saying it. Beyond that, generosity feels good, offering a way to give back in recognition for those who’ve helped and guided you. In addition, kindness spreads joy, creating a ripple effect of gratitude and good harmony. From doing someone a favor to surprising them with an out-of-the-blue gift, there are so many ways to say thank you through your actions.
Are you inspired to incorporate gratitude in your daily routine? Shifting your mindset can help you live a longer, happier life — and transforming your experience at work and with your family.