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Actively looking for good experiences can help you discover more about life that is positive and relieve stress.

Gratitude: Not Just a Mental Health Practice

The secret to living is giving.

When you begin to spiral about something at work or home, what helps you get control? At ALYKA, we share a lot about how anxiety can affect other areas of your health – your heart, your immune system, etc. Did you know that research suggests practicing gratitude can help combat anxiety? Consider a simple practice that impacts both mental health and physical health.

Several research studies have now measured gratitude practices and their impact on anxiety. One study measured gratitude’s positive role on heart health as patients participated in a 6-week gratitude journaling program.

So, why does it work? Gratitude practices help individuals name things in their lives that change the quality of their lives. Practicing gratitude does not dismiss hard things, but it does help remove focus from the fears or negative aspects of life.

A famous children’s book called “Alexander and The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day,” follows a character who starts his day with gum in his hair, tripping on a skateboard, and then dropping his sweater in a wet sink – all of which sounds like a challenging way to begin a morning. But the refrain of the book reads, “I could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good very bad day,” as if from the very minute the child woke up, he was looking for the bad aspects of his day.

This realistic depiction often plays out even in the lives of adults. When one thing goes wrong, individuals begin to focus only on negative experiences. As readers continue through the children’s book about Alexander, he counts even minor inconveniences as proof of his horrible day. It’s part of the book’s humor, but how different the story would read if the child were looking for the good!

The story mirrors a shared experience. When we look for the bad, we can be weighed down by disappointments and discomfort, impacting our anxiety levels and overall health. Gratitude does the opposite. Actively looking for good experiences can help you discover more about life that is positive and relieve stress.

So, what does a gratitude practice look like? There are many ways to practice gratitude. The key is to remember your day and name the positive elements of your experience. For example, one practice is to write down things you are grateful for in a list or journal. Another example is to practice naming good things out loud at meals with family or friends. The key is to set aside regular time to identify and reflect on specific things you are grateful for. Lower your anxiety and strengthen your health by finding joy today.

Looking for other ways to reduce anxiety and stay healthy? Check out our blog.

 

Resources

Practicing Gratitude: Ways to Improve Positivity

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