“Let us then be up and doing
With a heart for any fate.
Still achieving, still pursuing
Learn to labour and to wait.

– Henry Longfellow

Gratitude Practice

Help yourself and lift your mental and physical health with this very simple technique.       

A ‘gratitude list’ and the evidence of how this works. 

 All this involves is thinking about the positive things in your life and how thankful you are for them. SIMPLE isn’t it.  BUT, the benefits of doing this are enormous. And here is why…….

The N.I.H. (2009), found that our hypothalamus is activated when we feel grateful. The hypothalamus’s main role is to regulate homeostasis and stimulate the release of our feel good hormones, thus it has widespread effects on the body and our behaviour.

The benefits of practising gratitude    

  1. It makes us happier
    One research paper found that, practicing gratitude releases the neuro-chemical dopamine, which is a ‘reward’ chemical that makes us feel good and motivates us to do more of the same thing. Multiple studies have shown that gratitude does indeed increase happiness and reduce feelings of depression.
  1. It reduces stress
    Gratitude has been found to help us regulate our emotions better, and this is an integral part of managing stress. Looking at participants’ heart rates before, during and after practising gratitude, a 2017 study  published in Scientific Reports found that heart rates decreased. Our heart rate decreasing is linked to us feeling calmer and more relaxed.
  1. It improves self-esteem
    It turns out thinking about what we’re thankful for can help us feel better about ourselves. A 2014 study published in the Journal of Applied Sport Psychology looked into the effect practising gratitude had on athletes and found it increased their self esteem.
  1.  Sleep better and for longer
    A 2011 study published in Applied Psychology,  found that all it takes is 15 minutes of writing about what you’re grateful for to have a positive impact on your sleep.
  1. It improves our physical health
    A 2012 study published in Personality and Individual Differences found that people who practice gratefulness were more likely to exercise more regularly, and also experience fewer aches and pains and generally feel healthier than those who do not practise gratitude.
  1. It improves our romantic relationships
    Practising gratitude has a ripple effect and impacts those around us. Another study found that by expressing gratitude to our partners, we improve the quality of our relationship.

Now you can seen why so many people in the personal development world wax lyrical about ‘gratitude’ – it certainly is a powerful tool.

Practice Gratitude

Consider how you can practise gratitude? 

Aside from a gratitude journal and writing it down.Try anchoring it to an existing habit like when you are in the shower or driving to work. Or rehearsing your gratitude list last thing at night.

Be specific 

Start by thinking about your health, family or job. But, to really get the most out of this practice, try to be specific and drill down. 

What was it about your work today that made you feel grateful? 

What did your friend do to make you thankful for their existence in your life? 

Be thankful to your feet, YES, your feet. They carry your weight around all day every day and you never even notice  them.

Try to think of different things

It’s easy to fall into the trap of repeating the same thing again and again when we think about what we’re thankful for. Over time this can make it lose its shine, become boring and fall into the background. Challenge yourself to think of something different every day. Being specific can really help here.

And do share your gratitude with others

The great thing about gratitude is that it gets better when we share it with others. As we’ve learnt here, expressing gratitude to others can improve relationships, so why not get into the habit of saying thank you more often? You might even want to write a letter or send a small gift to let someone know you’re thankful for them. This will brighten up their day and make you feel good.