Did you know that giving thanks and practicing gratitude can improve your mental health? The age-old tradition of giving thanks at this time of year is actually backed by science. New research is starting to show how giving thanks can increase happiness, reduce depression and strengthen resiliency. It may also help you boost your self-esteem!
You might be wondering, how does this really work? Gratitude rewires your brain, kickstarting the production of dopamine and serotonin – those friendly “feel-good” neurotransmitters! Best of all, the benefits of giving thanks get better over time. Regular practice trains your prefrontal cortex to retain positive experiences and thoughts while deflecting the negative ones.
If giving thanks is so powerful (and free!), why don’t we all do it more? Maybe you are a little unsure where to start? Giving thanks doesn’t always have to be sitting around a table with your family. There are lots of ways you can show your gratitude each day. We’ve put together a list of our four favorite ways that you can start giving thanks every day.
1. Shift Your Mindset
It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day stress and strain of life. Your everyday tasks and responsibilities can start to weigh on you. There is a simple phrase that can help you conquer this. Instead of thinking, “I have to,” shift to thinking, “I get to.” This is a surefire way to make you instantly feel more thankful for all you have in life.
It helps you start to realize there are many people would dream of being able to do the thing you are complaining about. Try this for a week – you will be amazed at what a difference this simple mindset shift can make. Here are a few examples to get your day started:
- Instead of thinking, “I have to go to work” change to “I get to go to work”
- Instead of thinking, “I have to do the laundry” change to “I get to do the laundry”
- Instead of thinking, “I have to take my daughter to soccer” change to “I get to take my daughter to soccer.”
2. Start a Gratitude Journal
One of the easiest ways of giving thanks each day is to start your own gratitude journal. You don’t need any fancy stationery, just a simple pen and paper will do the trick. Keeping a gratitude journal is easy. Each morning, before you look at your phone or check your emails, write down a list of three things you are grateful for and why.
Our brains are hardwired to think of the worst-case scenario – it’s a protective mechanism that has helped us survive in the past. However, in today’s world, it can mean negative self-talk, doubt, and despair. By starting your day jotting down what you are grateful for, you are sending a signal to start the day on a positive note. You are helping override your brain’s negative messages and establish new pathways.
It doesn’t matter how small or insignificant it may seem, write it down. This practice can take less than a minute each morning and can change your whole day. If you are brand new to the idea of gratitude journaling or have no idea where to start, here are a few examples:
Today I am grateful for:
- My new yoga class …. Because it is really helping my back right now!
- My phone …. Because it allows me to connect with my friend that lives far away
- Family reunion next week … Because it reminds me of how lucky I am
3. Replace Sorry with Thank You!
How many times do you catch yourself saying ‘sorry,’ even when you have nothing to be sorry for? If this is you, you are not alone – it’s a very common habit, particularly in women. However, this is a habit you are going to want to kick. Remember when we talked about your brain being hardwired to think about the negative? Imagine what it thinks when you say sorry all day. You are training your brain to think everything you are doing is wrong!
So, instead of saying ‘sorry,’ challenge yourself to say ‘thank you’ instead. Not only will this stop sending the ‘I am always wrong’ signal to your brain, but it’s also a great way to show your gratitude to those around you. Here are some ways you can get started:
- Replace “I’m sorry I’m late” with “Thank you so much for waiting for me”
- Replace “I’m sorry I messed that up” with “Thank you for being patient with me”
- Replace “I’m sorry I can’t make that event” with “Thank you for understanding I’m very busy right now”
4. Celebrate the Small Stuff
Giving thanks doesn’t always have to be saying it out loud or even writing it down. You can give thanks by celebrating your accomplishments, no matter how small. Whether it’s getting a promotion at work, making it to the gym or just clearing out your wardrobe – show yourself some thanks!
A great way to show yourself gratitude is to take some time out for you. Have a long bath, go to the movies or take a walk in the fresh air. One of our favorite ways in Ayurveda to give thanks to your body is through a daily self-massage known as abhyanga. This is a full body massage than can be done from the comfort of your own home. It’s the perfect way to slow down and appreciate everything your body does each day. Check out our seasonal dosha kits for the perfect oils for you.
Whether you shift your mindset, start a journal or begin to celebrate your successes, you can experience the benefits of giving thanks. For just a little effort, you can gain great rewards so get started today! Show yourself some gratitude by booking a 30 minute complimentary Ayurveda consultation. Simply click this link and find a time that works for you on our online calendar.