Episodes of depression and anxiety are common for people living with bipolar disorder. But research has found that practicing gratitude has a positive influence on one’s mood, outlook, relationships, and overall happiness—all of which can buffer against depression and anxiety. Here are ten ways to harness the power of gratitude:
#1 Understand appreciation
An appreciation for what you have makes it easier not to worry about what you don’t have. This helps recognize the positive aspects, which provides a calming effect—this in turn can make it less stressful to deal with mental health issues. Various studies have shown that being more appreciative of a romantic partner strengthens the relationship.
#2 Pay attention
By noting the things and people in life that you’re grateful for, it inspires you to pay attention and increase your awareness of what you will add to your journal or list, either in that moment or at the end of the day. Even the simple experience of gratitude may give you a dopamine boost and help depression and anxiety.
#3 Count your blessings
Practice the “three good things” exercise daily and keep a running list throughout. Many people find putting pen to a notebook with a gratitude journal gives the needed ritual experience that encourages an intentional focus on the day’s events. When journaling, you can write more detail about the events that made you feel appreciative.
#4 Make alphabet soup
If you’re seeking something a little different than keeping a list or a journal, why not try making an alphabet list? Note something, even if it seems small and simple, for every letter of the alphabet. Some find it helpful to keep a document in their smart phone or a small notebook so they can capture everything during the day.
#5 Dinner thanks
One of the most popular and powerful tools for cultivating thankfulness is to say it out loud. When you speak about gratitude instead of just thinking it, it engages the parasympathetic nervous system, which in effect increases serotonin and produces feelings of peace and calm. Many people make a habit of talking about the positive things from their day around the family dinner table.
#6 Give thanks to others
Practice appreciating others. Write regular thank-you notes one or twice a week—whether cards, letters, texts, or emails. The act of telling another you are grateful for him creates connection and spreads a feeling of validation that will hopefully be paid forward.
#7 Say it in a picture
If you are a visual/creative type, you could use visual reminders: Post pictures of loved ones or meaningful experiences in places where you can see them regularly. You could even create a gratitude wall in your home to act as a constant reminder to savor the wonderful people and moments in your life.
#8 Consider the alternative
Another exercise takes the It’s a Wonderful Life approach: recall something positive that happened in your life or a special someone and consider how life would be if the event never happened or you hadn’t met that person. That might not sound uplifting—and may not be the best idea when you’re feeling fragile—but this exercise helps you see how someone or something is a blessing.
#9 Your own gratitude style
The best route to success is choosing a gratitude practice that fits with your preferences and style. What works for one person may not for another. Experiment with several until you find the one(s) you find most enjoyable. You will be grateful you did.
#10 Make it a habit
To count your blessings when in a state of depression or anxiety is challenging and takes a conscious effort. However, if this is a habit and part of your every day routine, like brushing your teeth, you will be more successful. In fact, some people associate two daily routines like thinking about what you’re grateful for while brushing your teeth.
Read more about gratitude
via bpHope – bp Magazine Community