Posted 1 week ago
Gratitude. The word is often used so much that it can feel as though it is nothing more than the latest buzzword. Recent studies have shown that practicing gratitude can improve your sleep, mood, and more recently has been linked to strengthening the immune system. However, I find that most struggle to truly understand how to practice gratitude and incorporate it into their daily lives in a way that is most meaningful and honoring to them.
Before we dive into some ways that you can practice gratitude, let us first acknowledge the elephant in the room. You may not always have the spirit of gratitude. Guess what? That is perfectly okay! It is about balance, not perfection. The part of gratitude that is often not talked about is the need to give yourself grace in those moments that might be a bit more difficult to navigate and manage. As humans it is healthy for us to experience a range of emotions.
Some might also struggle with practicing gratitude as we often think of gratitude in absolutes. Doing so can lead to frustration and/or feelings of sadness that “There’s nothing good happening.” Shifting your focus to those things that might be smaller in nature can help to alleviate some of those feelings.
Below are a few ways in which you can practice gratitude.
- Gratitude journaling. Try writing down three things you are grateful for everyday for at least 30 days. There’s a catch! You can NOT repeat any of the items listed for the previous day. So if one day you list food, shelter, water….you can’t list those again.
- Acknowledge the small victories along the way. Do nurses typically have a hard time starting an IV, but someone got it on the first try?! Celebrate that! Were your favorite snacks in the treatment room??! Celebrate that! Was your doctor running on time?! Celebrate! It’s the little things in life that can make the world go round.
- Start a gratitude jar. Write down some of those small victories you have experienced and put them in a jar. In those moments when you need a “pick me up,” pull out one of the papers and read it.
- Write a letter to a loved one telling them how much you love and appreciate them.
- Never underestimate the power of a smile. As we continue navigating this COVID-19 world, the ability to more easily see facials expressions has been diminished. Don’t be afraid to let those pearly whites shine when that mask is off. You never know who may need to see it.
- Say “Thank You.” You’re probably thinking that you already do this. Try being specific the next time you thank someone for something.
As you start your gratitude practice, try to track the differences you start to notice in your overall sense of well-being. Remember, it will take some time for you to experience consistent benefits. Do you have a gratitude practice already that you love? We’d love to hear about it email us as firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nicole McCallister is a Licensed Master Social Worker. Nicole received her Master’s in Social Work from Arizona State University in August 2017. She received her Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice Studies in April 2003 from Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, MI.
Nicole has spent the last 15 years working with children and families in the child welfare system of Arizona. She completed a social work internship with Ironwood under the supervision of Kelly Huey from August 2016 through May 2017.
Nicole has volunteered with Ironwood’s breast cancer support group in Scottsdale after her internship was complete. Nicole is looking forward to working with cancer patients and their families in hopes of supporting the positive change to those in need.