Can Feeling Grateful and Being Intentional About Gratitude Improve Your Health and Self-Esteem?

What if I told you that something as simple as being grateful, could improve your mental and physical health, sleep patterns, self-esteem, and even help with relationships?

As someone that struggled with depression and anxiety for most of my life, I realized a big contributor to my depression was the focus that I put on the things that I did not have. I was so focused on what I was lacking, that it often got in the way of what was in front of me. I remember thinking at each phase, “Ok, when I go to college, when I graduate, when I get a job, when I get married, when I have kids, etc., things will be better and easier.” 

Can feeling grateful improve your health and self-esteem

But guess what, when I got there the weighted blanket of depression never went away. Not, until I started focusing on the things in my life that I did have and truly being grateful for those things.  

There is something so powerful about the present moment and looking at what you have right now. Do you have food on the table, a roof over your head, a pet, a family, friends, a bed to sleep in, etc? Some of these basic questions can really bring you back into the present.

A simple practice that you can do is grab a small journal and before you go to bed, write down 3 things that you are grateful for that happened that day or that you are grateful for in that moment. They can be very small things. Maybe it was the hot, soothing cup of tea that you had that morning, or perhaps a walk that you went on with your dog in the middle of your workday or maybe it was a smile you saw from a child as you passed them on the street. It really can be anything.  

One thing I am always grateful for is my bed. After a long day, sometimes there is nothing better for me than climbing into my bed and being under my warm, cozy covers.  

grateful self-esteem journal

It’s hard to feel grateful.

It’s not easy to feel grateful all of the time.  Life can be really hard, I am not going to lie. But, I have found that when I start to go down the rabbit hole of my old thought patterns, I recognize the pattern and work to correct it. I have even come to a place of being grateful for difficult situations that have happened in my childhood and throughout my life. It has not been easy to get to this place and it has taken a lot of intention and effort, but these events have taught me life lessons, either how to act in life or how not to act in life.  

In this article by Psychology Today 7 Scientifically Proven Benefits of Gratitude, the feelings and emotions that are felt by being in a state of gratitude, have tremendous benefits to your overall health and well-being.

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grateful hand over heart

So the next time you feel yourself going into the spiral of feeling helpless and that life is closing in on you, take a moment to step back. Focus on some things that you are grateful for at that moment. I find that it decreases my feelings of overwhelm when I practice gratitude.  

Often times it helps me to recognize that I have a community and family around that can help me with a particular issue that I’m facing or that I have been able to get through really hard things before and that I have the courage and strength to make it through this too. You can’t control all of the external events that happen in your life but you can control your thoughts and how you choose to respond. When I started being intentional about gratitude, I started to notice things that I had never noticed before. How can you practice gratitude today?

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