Gratitude as Self-Care - November 29, 2021
The benefits of a gratitude practice are abundant, but what exactly does gratitude mean? Simply, gratitude is the state of being thankful for what already exists. To be aware of the good surrounding us and to let others know that we are grateful for them actually improves our own happiness. Studies have shown that practicing gratitude reduces depression and anxiety; enhances empathy and reduces aggression; helps improve sleep, and more.
A Gratitude Practice
There are so many ways we can practice gratitude, but one way to enhance any gratitude practice is the idea of ‘taking in the good’ as described by Dr. Rick Hanson, PhD. He explains that by thinking of a positive moment (something you are grateful for) and then spending a few more seconds on the thought allows it to ‘sink in’ even more. Helping to enhance the memory and make it stick in the brain a little better. It sounds simple, right? One way I like to practice gratitude is through creating a visual reminder of what I am grateful for - this helps me to stay focused on the thing I am grateful for a little bit longer so I can ‘take in the good’.
On a piece of paper draw a circle in the center and then draw lines from the circle to the outer edge of the paper, creating an image that resembles a sun. Then, in each of the sections created by the lines write and/or illustrate (you could even use stickers!) something that you are grateful for. Spend time with each section coloring in with pencil or scribbling a pattern or color - all while holding that positive thought in mind and recalling the actual physical feelings associated with the positive thought. This action will help keep you focused on the thing you are grateful for and promote the idea of ‘taking in the good’. Trust me, you don’t need to be an artist to benefit from this practice!