Mental Health

The Power of Gratitude and How to Make it a Part of Your Daily Self Care Routine

Do you have a self-care routine? I know it’s difficult as a working mom to actually find time to tend to our own needs and take a much-deserved break. But, since there are a wide-range of benefits with self-care, such as improving your productivity, self-esteem, and immune system, it’s time that you make self-care a priority.

At the same time, when you think of self-care you probably think of exercising, meditating, getting a massage, reading, or catching-up with a long-lost friend for lunch. While all of these are great examples of self-care, I feel that there’s a practicing gratitude should also be included in your daily self-care routine.

As Dr. Robert Emmons, a Professor of Psychology at UC Davis and author of Thanks! How The New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier, writes;

”Without gratitude, life can be lonely, depressing and impoverished. Gratitude enriches human life. It elevates, energizes, inspires and transforms, and those who practice it will experience significant improvements in several areas of life including relationships, academics, energy level and even dealing with tragedy and crisis.”

Amy Morin a psychotherapist and the author of 13 Things Mentally Strong Parents Don’t Do adds in an article for Forbes that gratitude has scientifically been to;

  • Open the door to more relationships.
  • Improve your physical health.
  • Improve your psychological health.
  • Enhance empathy and reduce aggression.
  • Help you sleep better.
  • Improve your self esteem.
  • Increase mental strength.

Despite these benefits, practicing gratitude isn’t something that comes to natural to us. We often find it easier to complain or focus on what we don’t have. Gratitude also means recognizing that the good things in our lives are often external forces, meaning that they’re outside of our control.

Just because practicing gratitude is challenging doesn’t mean that it’s impossible. In fact, you can begin your gratitude journey today by taking these seven steps.

1. Keep a gratitude journal.

This is probably the easiest place to start. Every evening grab a pen and notebook and jot down the good things that happened to you today. It could be anything from that delicious salad you had for lunch to your child giving you a big, warm hug. There’s really no wrong to keep a gratitude journal, but it’s suggested that you write-up to five specific things that you feel grateful for. Pay particular to surprises and sometimes consider what your life would be like without certain people or things.

2. Embrace suffering.

This sound counterproductive, but Western Buddhist master Jack Kornfield, says that being grateful isn’t just about the blessing’s in your life, it’s also about embracing suffering.

Kornfield explained this to the Huffington Post;

“I remember my meditation master in the jungles of Thailand who would ask at times, Where have you learned more compassion? Where have you learned more? Where has your heart grown wiser — in just having good times, or going through difficulties? There’s a Buddhist-oriented therapy in Japan called Naikan Therapy, and one part of that training is to review your life and begin to remember all the things you have gratitude towards, even the things that were difficult and taught you lessons. Or even the people that were difficult, sometimes in your own family — [remembering] the gratitude you have for family, that they’re even there.

And speaking of gratitude, in a group that I taught recently, there was a man who spoke up whose son and daughter-in-law had become meth addicts. They were both addicts to the point where this fellow and his wife as grandparents had to take the children and raise their grandchildren. After a moment of great despair, he began to do a gratitude practice to see what he could be grateful for. He was grateful to have the grandchildren in that way, he was grateful that his children were still alive and that they were considering treatment. He was grateful for the depths of compassion that had grown when he learned about the waves of addiction that were prevalent in the country, and that he could somehow contribute to bringing an end to it…. He said that by being able to find gratitude as well, he was able to bear the difficulties and to bring some grace and love to it.”

3. Write a thank you letter.

Is there someone in your life that you could thank? Write them a handwritten thank you letter. I know it would be easier to email or text them, but a handwritten letter is more personal and shows how truly grateful you are since you took the time to actually compose your thanks.

4. Practice mindfulness.

When you have a quiet moment to yourself, I know that’s not often, close your eyes and think about five to ten things that you’re grateful for. The key is to picture this in your mind and sit with that awesome feeling in your body. Doing this daily can rewire your brain.

5. Say it out loud.

Wake-up each morning and say “I’m grateful for you” to the most important people, objects, and events in your life. It’s a great way to get your day started on a positive note!

6. Donate and volunteer.

Go through your closet and donate all those clothes and shoes you no longer wear and donate them, you can ask your family to do the same. Spend a Saturday afternoon volunteering with kids whether if it’s cleaning up the beach or volunteering with an organization like the Adaptive Sports Center.

These are simple ways to make you realize how much you really have, it also helps your community. It even gives you a chance to spend some quality time with your family.

7. Look yourself in the mirror.

Finally, go to the nearest mirror and look yourself in the eyes. Then, express gratitude for who you are, what you’ve accomplished, and what you’ve given to yourself. Practicing this type of self-love can be done anytime you use the restroom or when walking down your hallway and walk past a mirror.

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