What if I told you that scientists have discovered one factor which may be the key to better mental health? You might be understandably skeptical. After all, society is always pushing one fad or another as the secret to better health. Happily, this is no fad. Research has reams of data to support the idea that mental health has a key — and this may be it.
Were you expecting a more complicated answer? Gratitude may be simple, but it can still take some work to practice. You can get caught up in the hustle and bustle of your daily routine and easily forget this key component to your mental health.
Gratitude Shifts Your Focus
There’s a reason why the evidence points to people being happier and less stressed when they practice gratitude. Gratitude tends to shift your focus away from what you don’t have into an appreciation for what you do. It’s a powerful distinction that can make you less stressed and depressed. People who are more grateful tend to emphasize positive emotions rather than dwelling on negative ones.
Gratitude Is Good For Your Brain
Research supports the idea that being grateful can have lasting effects on brain activity. There’s even reason to believe that it may condition you to feel more gratitude in the future and have a lasting impact on overall mental health. In short, being grateful can help you become a more positive, optimistic person.
Gratitude Can Boost Your Self-Confidence
Self-confidence may not seem like it’s related to gratitude, but people who feel more grateful also tend to have a higher level of self-esteem. It’s unsurprising when you consider that gratitude has the side effect of making us feel more productive and capable. Of course, the impact of feeling gratitude isn’t immediate. It can take time. Still, research supports the idea that people who are more appreciative have the self-confidence to go with it.
Gratitude Can Strengthen Your Relationships
Our relationships can have a strong impact on our mental health. There’s evidence to support the idea that a gratitude practice can also have a significant positive impact on our relationships. It makes sense. When you feel grateful for your life, you’re also more likely to express gratitude, show gratitude, and feel it in relation to partners and friends. Strong, positive social support can also lead to better mental health.
Gratitude Improves Sleep
Don’t underestimate the link between getting enough sleep and better mental health. It’s a powerful one. Gratitude may also contribute to better rest, which contributes to better mental health. It seems much of the research around gratitude works this way. For every benefit science has uncovered surrounding gratitude, there are other links to better physical and mental health.
For instance, feeling grateful leads to better sleep, which can lead to a better diet, more exercise, and healthier immune function. All these benefits go right back to reinforcing gratitude — in other words, giving you even more to be thankful for.
Gratitude is powerful, and it may be the key to better overall mental health. The practice of gratitude can be done in many ways. Expressing it aloud daily is certainly one of them, but you can also journal each day about what you’re grateful for, write thank-you letters, or just take the time to show your appreciation more often. No matter how simple it may seem, it can be a powerful way to support YOUR mental health while giving you even more reasons to be thankful.