Emotions can bottle up inside you, but you don’t have to let them. You can master your thoughts, feelings, and emotions and learn to let them out in positive ways, so they don’t cause you stress and harm.
One of the best ways to improve your health and handle your emotions is by expressing your gratitude. Yes, really!
Ask yourself: What are you thankful for? Who matters in your life? Even when life may not be going as planned, there are still many things to be grateful for.
Give Your Gratitude Away
No matter how much you appreciate someone in your life, that person may not have any idea about how you feel. Rather than just assume they know your thoughts and feelings, go ahead and speak up. Tell them how you really feel and what’s in your heart.
See the smile? It feels good, doesn’t it? When you smile back, laugh, and even share tears of joy and love, it helps your heart, mind, and body thrive. It releases a flood of chemicals that your body just loves. It’s a “feel-good” thing to do. That’s true for both you and the receiver of your gratitude.
Maybe you’re grateful for something you have, as opposed to a person. Did you ever think about sending a thankful message to the company that makes the products you love? They probably hear all about customer complaints, but how much gratitude do they get for the work they’ve done to make lives better or more convenient? Give them some of your gratitude and you’ll spread joy all around!
If a person could do only one thing to increase their health and happiness, expressing gratitude might be it. Martin Seligman, a pioneer in the field of Positive Psychology, has remarked, “when we take time to notice the things that go right – it means we’re getting a lot of little rewards throughout the day” (BrainyQuote, n.d.).
Ways to Show Your Gratitude
Showing gratitude is something you can do quite easily and all it costs you is a little bit of time and effort.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Tell your loved ones you care for them.
- Hug a friend who’s hurting.
- Smile at a stranger.
- Write to a company whose product or service you really love.
- Make time to listen to someone who needs to talk.
- Spend some time out in nature, appreciating the beauty of creation.
- Volunteer your services or help someone in need.
How Does Gratitude Impact Mental Health?
“But I know that I spent a long time existing, and now I intend to live” – Sabaa Tahir
Stress does not have to control our lives when we feel and express gratitude regularly. There is no part of well-being that is untouched by gratitude, be that physical, mental, or social. Practicing gratitude is gaining a life-view of thankfulness. By appreciating ourselves, our dear ones, Nature, and the Almighty, we experience the purest form if all positive emotions. It helps us to realize that nothing is obvious and nothing is to be taken for granted – for it is the little things in life where our real joy lies.
Dr. Emmons, in his studies on the striking effects of gratitude on mental health revealed:
- Gratitude practices reduce cardiac diseases, inflammations, and neurodegeneration significantly
- Daily journaling and gratitude jars can help individuals fighting with depression, anxiety, and burnout
- Writing gratitude letters brings hope and evokes positivity in suicidal patients and those fighting terminal diseases
- Gratitude improves the sleep-wake cycle and enhances mood. It helps people with insomnia, substance abuse, and eating disorders.
A Take Home Message
Practicing gratitude is synonymous to expressing our feelings for others and ourselves. By simple words of love and praise, we not only make others feel good, but we also feel a lot better of ourselves and our lives. Gratitude is about feeling the right way, about the right things, and at the right time. It is inseparably linked with self-discipline and motivation. It may not give us instant relief from pain and stress, but it brings the feeling of control back to us.
By acknowledging and appreciating our assets, gratitude gives us the charge of our own lives. As Robin Sharma has beautifully put it:
“Gratitude drives happiness. Happiness boosts productivity. Productivity reveals mastery. And mastery inspires the world”.