Practicing gratitude can act as a buffer against depression; here’s eight ways to use this power:
#1 Pay attention
Even the simple experience of gratitude may give you a dopamine boost and help depression and anxiety. 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.
#2 Focus on the positive
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.
#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. There are also numerous phone apps that are also gratitude journals and reminders.
#4 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.
#5 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.
#6 Say it in a picture
For some of us, unless it’s always in front of our face, we may simply forget, despite our best intentions. 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.
#7 Your own gratitude style
The best route to success is choosing a gratitude practice that fits with your preferences and style. Experiment with several until you find the one(s) you find most enjoyable and that you’ll stick with. What works for one person may not for another so you need to personalize and customize.
#8 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: “Gratitude: ’Tis a Gift to be Thankful”
via Esperanza – Hope To Cope
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