As Americans, we have a lot to be thankful for, such as our freedom, our rights, our great nation and the people who protect it. The process and practice of showing gratitude has health benefits for our body, brain and overall quality of life. Read below for more on the impacts of gratitude and how you can share it with others.
Research shows that practicing gratitude activates areas of our brain associated with social judgment, decision-making, and emotional processing. It is proven to lower heart rate, support healthy blood pressure and immune functioning, and improve sleep quality and duration. People who intentionally practice gratitude even show less symptoms of physical illness, are happier, less stressed and friendlier to others.
Practicing gratitude can look different from one person to the next. Here are six ways you could try to practice gratitude in your life.
Write down three to five things you are grateful for each day on a piece of paper or an App on your phone. You can also try keeping a gratitude journal where you write down more elaborate, personal and impactful moments in detail that you are grateful for.
Think about a veteran you know, or someone who has impacted your life. Maybe this is someone who you would like to thank, or someone who you appreciate or even someone you struggle with. Write a letter or note and include a specific appreciation about them, and send it. Print off our YOU MATTER letterhead to get started.
Take time out of your day to spend quality time with someone you care about or maybe even someone you have not seen in a while. Take them a letter/note or bring along their favorite snack, beverage or special treat. This could begin a trickle down effect that goes far beyond just you.
Be aware of opportunities and reasons to say “thanks.” Recognize small actions people do every day that might be overlooked, such as a colleague who always goes the extra mile, or a friend who always seems to listen.
Think of a struggle you face, a negative thought pattern you revert to, or somewhere in your life you feel stuck. Bring that thought to your attention and intentionally shift your perspective to make it into an enjoyable challenge you can tackle or moment you can enjoy.
Simply paying attention to or being mindful of the present moment, like the flame of a candle or a pretty flower, can spark moments of gratitude and clarity. There are free apps, like Calm, Headspace, Insight Timer or Simple Habit, that can walk you through a short or longer session.
We invite you to try out mindfulness or meditation for yourself by clicking here for an 11-minute Sound Meditation by SimplyAware or here for an 11-minute Mindfulness Session led by Boot Campaign’s Health and Wellness Program Director and clinical psychologist, Dr. Jenny Howland.