We are coming to the end of Mental Health Awareness Month and I thought I would write a little bit about some things that help maintain my mental wellness.
I am a living, breathing human in this world and I experience a spectrum of emotions that affect my day to day life and influence my thoughts.
Over the past 5-7 years or so, I have intermittently practised intentional gratitude whenever I felt like I needed to. I’ve found that a gratitude practice can pave the way towards a more peaceful mind when I feel unstable, insecure and not worthy.
In this post I’ve presented some of the benefits of gratitude from what I researched, I’ve written about practical ways I practise gratitude and I have a few extra general thoughts about mental health at the end.
Let’s start with what I found out about the benefits of gratitude.
Benefits of Gratitude
On an online article from PsychologyToday, Amy Morin, author of What Mentally Strong People Don’t Do, lists 7 scientifically proven benefits of gratitude, ranging from getting better sleep to creating more relationships. Feel free to click the link to read more about what she says but I will just focus on what I thought were the most interesting benefits.
There are two benefits that I found interesting and funnily enough, one seems to be the pre-curser to the other, meaning that one benefit seems to cause the other one to naturally happen.
The two benefits are:
Gratitude enhances empathy and reduces aggression
Gratitude opens the door to more relationships
I believe that when you enhance your empathy, you do open the door to more relationships. Think about it, if someone is empathetic towards you, meaning they take time to listen and believe your struggles, don’t you like them more? Wouldn’t you be more likely to want them to be your friend, as opposed to someone who is more apathetic and dismissive?
In the article these two benefits are listed separately but as I read on, I started to understand how these two and all the other 5 benefits sit on a lovely interconnecting web of positivity, where one benefit gives light to the next one and the next one and the next one…
It just goes to show that the benefits of gratitude all reinforce each other, creating a fantastic solid foundation which you can return to when you need it, helping you lead a happy and healthy life.
If that’s not motivation to be more grateful, then let’s look at what else I found.
In an article by Joel Wong and Joshua Brown published by the Greater Good Science Centre at UC Berkeley in 2017, they reported on a study that set out to observe how a regular gratitude practice would affect those already living with pre-diagnosed mental health conditions.
The study involved ‘nearly 300 adults, mostly college students who were seeking mental health counselling at university’. The majority of people they recruited for this study ‘struggled with issues related to depression and anxiety’.
The study focused on three groups. All groups received mental health therapy as standard but to observe the effects of gratitude, the groups were asked to do different tasks alongside their main treatment to see what was more beneficial.
Group 1 were asked ‘to write one letter of gratitude to another person each week for three weeks‘.
Group 2 were ‘asked to write about their deepest thoughts and feelings about negative experiences‘.
Group 3 did not do any additional writing activity.
These were the results.
They found that ‘those who wrote gratitude letters reported significantly better mental health for 12 weeks after their writing exercise ended‘. That means that Group 1 felt the benefits of practising gratitude for up to three months after participating in this study.
THREE MONTHS! I was shocked. I knew practising gratitude really worked for me but to see how gratitude can have significant long term benefits for both those living with and without a mental health condition was really promising.
That was just one of the amazing results found from this study. If you wish to see the other results of the experiment, please feel free to click the link above to read all about some more benefits of practising gratitude whilst living with a mental health condition.
Click on to Page 2 for my practical tips for practising Gratitude >>