17 Nov Gratitude And How It Helps Improve Mental Health
As you probably know, gratitude is the warm feeling of appreciation you have for something or someone. A recent survey found that the average American says “thank you” about five times per day and 2,000 times per year. Unfortunately, this phrase has become so common and has significantly lost its meaning because most people say it but do not necessarily mean it. Nevertheless, sincere gratitude can go a long way in improving your mental health, as reported by the University of New Hampshire. Some of the common words or actions of expressing gratitude include, among others, “thank you,” “I appreciate,” “you’re such a blessing,” bowing, hugging, and smiling. Here’s a detailed look at how adopting an attitude of gratitude can help improve your mental health.
Improves Your Mood
According to a study conducted at the University of Pennsylvania, expressing appreciation can help elevate your mood. This is especially the case if you finally thank someone you may have been waiting for a long time to show gratitude. Naturally, when you have something to be grateful for, you tend to focus more on that thing, and this leaves no room for sadness and irritation. In essence, the more grateful you are, the happier you will be.
Strengthens Social Bonds
In general, there is a negative correlation between gratitude and loneliness. More precisely, appreciative people tend to be more socially likable, as reported by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI). Friends who appreciate each other through things such as gifts, visits, day-outs, and verbal appreciations have a higher chance of maintaining their friendship longer. This is because gratitude not only makes both parties satisfied, but it can also build trust between them.
Enhances Physical Health
Poor mental health may harm physical health, too. Anxiety and depression can contribute to physical health conditions, including obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, back pain, shortness of breath, headaches, visual problems, and dizziness, as reported by the American Psychological Association (APA). Fortunately, gratitude can help improve both your mental and physical health.
Makes You More Positive
In life, being positive and optimistic can improve your mental health to a great extent. For instance, people who appreciate others more tend to stay upbeat, and they also help more people in need, as published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. In particular, you will develop a positive attitude when you are grateful for the things and the people you have.
Makes You Stronger During Adversity
During difficult times in life, staying positive can make a significant difference in keeping you sane to solve problems, as reported by the David Eccles School of Business. It also makes you healthy and ready to shake off anything negative, which is essential to your mental health. Luckily, being grateful has a way of making you have a more positive approach towards problems, people, work, and even life.
Eases Making New Friends
Being thankful generally promotes positive feelings, both to you and to the recipient. If the recipient is a stranger, he/she may see you as a good person just because you said “thank you” for something they did for you. This can be the beginning of a new, long-lasting relationship. It can also create a good impression, which can be the door to great opportunities through the stranger you thanked. Such opportunities can improve your life, and hence your mental health.
Makes You More Empathetic
Typically, people who appreciate good gestures from others find it easy to ignore those who mistreat them. In other words, once you’ve built a positive mindset, it may be difficult for a toxic person to pull you down, as reported by the University of Kentucky. Besides, a grateful person spends more time thinking about good things and is less likely to seek revenge or live in regrets. He/she may also find it easier to help those in need without expecting anything in return.
Improves Sleep Quality
A peaceful mind and a comfortable place are all you need to have a good night’s sleep. According to an article published in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being Journal, writing down the things you’re thankful for right before going to bed can improve your sleep quality. More specifically, a positive mindset plays a vital role in regulating the amount of the stress hormone (cortisol) in your bloodstream, giving you the much-needed peace for quality sleep.
A recent study published in the Psychology Today Journal suggests that comparing yourself with other people who seem to have a better life than yours can lower your self-esteem, depression, and other mental health problems. The best way to avoid comparing yourself to others is to be grateful for the things you have. You should also learn to appreciate yourself after achieving something good, such as starting a new business, enrolling in the gym, and making better decisions. With time, this will make you content with what you have and build your self-esteem and motivate you.
As a teenager, you could be going through a rough patch in your life with little or no help. The good news is that counting and appreciating the things you have can go a long way in improving your mental health. If you need professional mental health help, contact Viewpoint Center today. Viewpoint Center offers a comprehensive assessment and residential program for teens struggling with mental health issues.