I want to share a few tips with you on how to develop gratitude. An intentional gratitude practice can change your life. I fully believe that. Focusing on gratitude has helped me to manage my depression and anxiety, and in this time of collective trauma, I think it's crucial. Now more than ever, we need to focus on gratitude. Here are a few ways to do that.
Keep a list
At some point in your day, pause to intentionally write down at least one thing you're grateful for that day. I do this as part of my nightly journaling. Three to five things is even better, but do what works for you. It can be something big or something silly and small. You could be grateful for anything from shelter to pancakes. Don't place any judgement on it. Nothing is wrong here. If it matters to you, then it counts.
You can write these down in a journal like I do, or you can keep a list in your notes on your phone. There are apps to track your gratitude practice if that works for you. I'm betting these would even prompt you to do this at a certain time of day if you forget.
How you keep the list doesn't really matter. The point is that you do it. Don't skip a day. The days when you don't feel like doing it are probably the most important ones.
Try mindfulness meditation
If you want to go a little deeper, you can try meditation. There are lots of great mindfulness apps out there. Insight Timer has a lot of free guided meditations focusing on gratitude. I have used Calm for over two years now, and I've found the gratitude sessions especially helpful. I have a premium subscription, and I think it's worth every penny. If you want a free 30-day trial, drop me an email, and I can send you a link. This is not sponsored, it's just been hugely impactful on me, and I know it can help other people as well.
Flip your worries on their head
Gratitude has helped me to change my mood and derail my anxiety. It takes some practice and some awareness to change habits, so this one can be a bit more challenging, but it can be really impactful.
Here's something to try. The next time you find yourself feeling really stressed out, worried, or irritated, try and catch yourself. Stop and take a breath. Acknowledge that you're spiraling. Telling yourself a story about the worst that could happen. Slipping into the habit of anxiety or anger or whatever your pattern is. This simple noticing can be the hardest part.
Once you've caught yourself, take a deep breath. Then tell yourself three things you're grateful for in this moment. If they're specifically related to the situation, that's great, but I think any gratitude can make a difference. I'm not saying this will be a magical salve that will instantly make you feel happy, but it can slow down that spiral and change your perspective. It can be the little thing you need to begin to slowly turn the ship around.
Ask for help
I am not a mental health professional. I am merely a person who has dealt with depression and anxiety most of her life. Gratitude has helped me, so I hope it can help you. If we take time to focus on what we have, on what brings us joy, we are much more likely to notice those things throughout the day. Eventually, the volume gets turned down on that voice that tells you you're a failure. You're not enough. Instead, we see a bit more clearly all there is to be happy about.
If you are struggling with depression or anxiety, please seek help. You do not have to go through this alone. Allow gratitude to be part of your healing, but get the support you need. There is strength in asking for help.
Do you have a gratitude practice of your own? What do you do? How has it helped? Let me know in the comments.
Take care of each other, friends. Be grateful. Be awesome.
Oh, and if you found this helpful and want to read more of my unsolicited advice, check out this post about staying on the path.