How practicing gratitude can help your mental health

BY Tim Hoopmann

Mental Health Spotlight

By Tim Hoopmann

Gratitude is about showing appreciation for all that is good in our life and is meaningful to us. When we stop and take time to notice and acknowledge the things for which we are grateful, we brighten our outlook, boost our mood, and feel more positive. When we are focusing on the positives in our lives it helps us to shift our thoughts away from negative emotions.

Whatever your circumstances in life, you may find that consistently showing gratitude can be surprisingly difficult. Many of us get caught up in a negativity bias, where we linger on bad news and unpleasant experiences, yet allow moments of positivity to fade into the background.

The idea of cultivating gratitude will help move us away from the negative bias. When practiced daily it can have real benefits. My gratitude journey began many years ago during a stressful time at work. To cope with this challenging time, I would focus daily on all the good in my life. My mood was uplifted, and I felt better about myself and able to cope more effectively with the challenges.

Cultivating gratitude isn’t a complicated endeavour, but it does require effort and a commitment to change. Try practicing the following each day and be consistent to see the positive effects.

Make a list of all the things that are good in your life – jot them down each morning. I like to do mine after my morning swim or walk. My exercise settles me, and I find it easier to bring to mind the good things in my life.

Repeat the list out loud – this may sound a bit strange, but I find it has a real positive effect when I hear the words spoken. Try it a few times and see the impact.

Pass on a compliment – this could be to a work colleague, family member or friend. When I complement someone it not only brings joy to the recipient, it makes me feel good and lifts my mood.

Thank you – two words that when used can make everyone feel good. Finding time to thank someone for their service or kindness will make you feel more positive.

Try approaching life with a more positive mindset using gratitude.

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