Not only can gratitude improve your relationships, it can help you feel more positive about yourself. Here, we dive into the research to find out why, then share 7 simple ways to start making gratitude a habit…
According to the ‘Self Love Index’, over 50% of people around the globe feel more self doubt than self love, and the average adult experiences six moments of self doubt every single day.
It’s no wonder, then, that more and more of us are turning to mindfulness practices, such as giving gratitude, to switch on the positivity.
So, what exactly is gratitude?
Simply put, gratitude is an emotion where you feel appreciation for someone or something and recognise the ways in which that person or thing has improved your life in some way.
According to psychologist, Dr Guy Winch, there’s a hormonal hit when we express gratitude, with our brain releasing dopamine and serotonin – hormones that make us feel lighter and happier.
What does the science say?
One of the first gratitude researchers, Dr Robert Emmons, discovered that 90% of participants who wrote about the things they were grateful for (versus the things that irritated them) on a weekly basis felt more positive about life and their self image. They also had more motivation to exercise and take better care of themselves.
The mental health benefits of gratitude have been studied further, with researchers in Brazil discovering that writing daily gratitude lists can help you feel more satisfied and reduce depression symptoms in the long-term.
To top it off, writing in a gratitude journal for just 15 minutes before bed has been proven to help you sleep better and longer.
7 ways to start practicing gratitude
KEEP A GRATITUDE JOURNAL
Writing down the things you are grateful for and / or the little things you’ve done each day that you’re proud of is practically guaranteed to have a positive ripple effect on your life and self esteem. Kick-start the habit with the Happy Place gratitude journal on the Happy Place app.
THANK YOUR BODY
Next time you look in the mirror or find yourself criticising your body, try mentally thanking it and giving gratitude for all the great things it helps you do, like walking, yoga or just hugging your friends.
Write a thank-you note
It might feel a bit cheesy, but trust – writing a letter of appreciation to someone you love or admire is proven to make you happier and improve your relationships. You could also try writing a note to thank yourself, focusing on all the challenges you’ve overcome, the relationships and skills you’ve grown. An email or voice note will also do the job.
LOOK AT WHAT WENT RIGHT
Pick a time each week to reflect on 3 things that went right or made you feel good. Thinking about the sensations you felt can help you tune into the positive, especially during a tougher-than-usual week.
Bring gratitude into your meditation
We know that our brains love meditation, but focusing on one thing you’re grateful for during your next practice can help you stay even more present and positive. Try a gratitude mantra like, “I’m grateful for feeling loved,” or a visual cue of your favourite person or place.
Add gratitude into your yoga practice
Dedicating time to moving your body and stilling your mind is already the ultimate act of self-love and positivity, but you can also cultivate gratitude on the mat by dedicating your practice to someone you love and sending good energy to them as you focus. During longer poses you could even think of one thing you’re grateful for with each breath.
Try an affirmation
Positive affirmations are phrases or statements that you repeat regularly that are proven to shift negative thoughts and help you feel more grateful. If you’re not sure where to start, yoga teacher, Kirsty Gallagher, has created a host of self-loving mantras – all available on the Happy Place app. ‘I’ve got this,’ ‘I am enough,’ and ‘I deserve’ are just a few of the affirmation practices available.
Check out the Happy Place app for a gratitude journal and practices that help you dedicate time to the most important relationship you’ll ever have… the one with yourself.