Practicing Gratitude in Mental Health Recovery
As an essential part of recovery, gratitude is recognized as one of the foundations for creating happiness. A positive outlook combined with positive thinking can influence behavior and aid in leading a sustainable recovery-oriented life. Those who practice gratitude will often take better care of themselves and engage in protective health behaviors such as regular exercise, healthy nutrition, and routine physical exams.
Gratitude has been proven to provide numerous physical, psychological, and social benefits such as:
- Increased happiness
- Reduced stress
- Reduced depression symptoms
- Improved sleep
- Boosted immune system
- Improved relationships
How does Gratitude work on my emotions?
Research has shown that theory of positive emotions, such as gratitude, promotes the use of adaptive coping strategies during stressful events, leading to enhanced resilience and improved outcomes. For those suffering from anxiety and depression, which can often come from stress, the practice of gratitude can lead them to become more optimistic, more in control of their lives, and live in a less stressful environment. Spending time creating feelings of joy and happiness connected to the people and things you are grateful for lifts the mood, often time invites a smile to appear on your face.
How does Gratitude help my interactions?
Practicing gratitude has a profound impact on our interaction with the world around us and allows us to celebrate the present and be an active participant in life. Friendships and families benefit when conversations and moods are more relaxed and hopeful. Think about a time when another person’s mood and outlook positively impacted your mood. It can be as simple as thinking about what you are grateful for in your life and allowing the positive feelings to arise in your body, mind and spirit. There are several ways to practice gratitude:
- Keep a gratitude journal. Recall moments of gratitude daily by recording 1-3 things which you are grateful for, including people, places, objects, moments, and successes. Research shows that people who journal their gratitude moments on a weekly basis exercise more regularly, have fewer physical symptoms, are more positive about life and optimistic about the future.
- Focus on what is important. Ask yourself, “What is important in my life?” An attitude of gratefulness in your relationships is a key part of long-lasting happiness.
- Appreciate the small things. Make a list of things in your life that you take for granted and what life would be like without them. Appreciating these will you give you a renewed appreciation for what you do have and people in your life.
- Share your appreciation. People have made an impact in your life, share your gratitude with them. Saying “thank you” to those people in your life lets them know what they mean to you.
- Give back. Once you sense your needs are being met and your sense of gratitude increases, you will have a larger capacity to give to others.
- Speak positively to yourself. Speak to yourself in a creative, optimistic, and appreciative manner. When you catch yourself speaking or thinking negatively about yourself, turn it into something positive. Learning to be more positive to yourself can improve your patience and understanding.
There is a less likely a chance of relapse if individuals in recovery practice gratitude because they are empowered to move forward. A grateful attitude means they can face the challenges that are before them. Although life will present obstacles, they view it as a chance to grow rather than a hindrance. This positive way of thinking helps to achieve recovery.
At Pasadena Villa, our treatment environment assists in relieving the anxiety and stress that comes from assimilating back into everyday life. Through group therapy, we encourage our clients to develop a sense of gratitude and begin to diffuse negative thoughts and behaviors. Clients learn the importance of change and how they perceive the world and create a better attitude towards life. Gratitude helps to motivate them to take the actions needed to make changes and begins to provide a healthy outlook.
Gratitude is one of the most overlooked tools we should use daily. It doesn’t take much time, it’s free and provides substantial benefits. It has been shown to reduce an array of toxic emotions and effectively increase positive ones. We all have the ability and opportunity to cultivate gratitude. The treatment team at Pasadena Villa understands if you are feeling down and experiencing helplessness or are unable to proceed; that is a sign help is needed.
We are here for you or your loved one to answer questions and connect to care. Call us at 877-845-5235 or complete our contact form to help with the next steps. Pasadena Villa currently offers treatment at two residential locations in both Orlando, Florida and Knoxville, Tennessee, and outpatient services in Cary, North Carolina.