Gratitude: Why you need it and how to cultivate it

Right now, the world is a bit of a crazy place. It can be easy to feel anxious and worried about what’s round the corner, and the feeling of not being able to plan anything too far ahead is pretty strange, right? It can be hard to feel grateful during times like these, but it’s also more important than ever that we try to express a little gratitude right now. 

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There have been many studies over recent years, showing all the benefits gratitude can have on both our physical and mental wellbeing. Mentally, practicing gratitude can boost happiness, reduce anxiety and depression, make us more resilient, help us cultivate stronger relationships and encourage us to be better people. On a physical level, it helps us sleep better, strengthens our immune system, reduces symptoms of illness, encourages us to do more physical activity and lowers blood pressure! 

If you think about it, that’s a whole lot of benefit for such a simple concept: be more grateful. 

So, how can you cultivate a little more gratitude into your day and start reaping all these benefits? Here are some ideas for you! 

Start a gratitude journal

If you’re like me (a stationary lover), then feel free to go all out and buy a dedicated gratitude journal. However, if you’re a bit more simplistic, you can of course just use a regular notebook, or even the notes on your phone. Each day, simply write down 3 things you’re grateful for. They could be big things, but little things work just as well, like the sun shining, or even the air that you breathe (which is a pretty big thing really). Some days will be really easy, but actually, finding the good on the hard days is where this practice will really pay off.

Say it out loud

If you live with someone, you could switch from writing the things you’re grateful for, to telling each other. Pick a regular point during the day where you tell each other 3 things you’re grateful for, which will not only have positive effects on yourself, but also on the other person whilst strengthening your relationship with them too!  

Write a letter

Think of someone who you look up to, or who has done something for you. It might be a physical act of giving you something or helping you achieve a task. Maybe they’re an emotional support to you. Maybe they’re a role model who you’ve never even met, but they have inspired you to become a better person, or follow a dream. Write them a letter expressing your gratitude. Let the love pour out; they never have to read it. Though, if you feel comfortable to do so, giving them the finished letter will most likely make you feel even better, and make them feel pretty wonderful too! 

Imagine your life without…

There are some things we take for granted. For example, I often call my car stupid because it doesn’t go into gear easily sometimes. But without it, I wouldn’t be able to get to Southampton very easily to visit my family. I would have to walk everywhere, which would take a lot more time out of my day, and I’d have to find a way to carry heavy things around rather than simply popping them into the boot. Life would be very different without my car and when I think of life without it, I suddenly feel sorry for ever calling it stupid… Give it a go with something (or someone) in your life! 

Go without!

Along similar lines, if you do find you take something for granted, try actually going without it for a few days (or longer!). I love chocolate, but I got to the point where I was eating a couple of squares every day after dinner. I wasn’t really enjoying or savouring it any more, it had just become a habit. If you’ve got something similar, not necessarily food, try removing it from your life for a while; you’ll definitely appreciate it more when you reintroduce it! 

Next week, I’ll share some yoga poses to help cultivate gratitude, so be sure to check back then to be able to create your own yoga sequence for gratitude! 

Do you practice gratitude?

Which of these activities do you think you’ll try?

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