Home LifestyleHealth Ways to Practice Gratitude Beyond Thanksgiving — From a Local Therapist

Ways to Practice Gratitude Beyond Thanksgiving — From a Local Therapist

by Heather Rafanello
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Gratitude is the practice of being thankful or appreciative for what is. It’s called a practice because the best way to incorporate gratitude is by doing so consistently. It’s easy to remember to give thanks during a season that is literally named for the task — Thanksgiving — but read on for ways to practice gratitude all year long.

gratitude

One important thing to note about gratitude is that it has to be authentic, something believable. The thing that you’re grateful for must be something that you can buy into, something truly meaningful to you. Don’t try to be thankful for everything, and don’t force it. If you’re feeling like Alexander and having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, this might not be a day to practice gratitude. We’ll get more into what this looks like shortly.

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Practicing gratitude helps people to slow down and pay attention to the aspects of their lives for which they are truly appreciative. If you’re not paying attention to the things happening around you, it’s going to be awfully difficult to be thankful for these things.

Gratitude not only improves a person’s attitude and outlook on life, but there are various other benefits as well. Researchers have been studying the effects of gratitude for years, and they’ve found that practicing gratitude can lead to decreased aches and pains (Psychology Today), increased exercise (Harvard.edu), boost the immune system (Healthline), reduce risks associated with heart failure (Healthline), increase quality of sleep (Psychology Today), and decrease need for doctors visits (Harvard).

Those who practice gratitude have also shown improvements in the quality of their relationships. One Harvard study found that individuals who took time to express gratitude for their partner not only felt more positive toward the other person but also felt more comfortable practicing honest communication in their relationship (Harvard.edu).

With all of this in mind, let’s get into how to start practicing gratitude. Here are some tips to get started:

  • Consistency is important, hence the “practice.” Start by trying to practice at least two to three times a week, if not every day.
  • There’s no need to overcomplicate it. Incorporate practicing gratitude into part of your existing daily routine. Maybe during a morning cup of coffee, or while brushing your teeth, or even at night while doing your skincare routine.
    • If you’re using a gratitude journal, keep it in sight, or set an alarm to help you build this new habit.
  • Thinking about why you’re grateful for something tends to be more powerful. How did this make you feel? What about this moment stood out to you? Try to paint the full picture.
  • Give yourself time to truly reflect. Don’t rush it, allow the practice to take 10-15 minutes.
  • And, if you’re just not feeling it, that’s okay! Don’t force something just for the sake of it. It’s important to be authentic and real.
  • Have fun! Express gratitude through creating, listening, and moving. HG pro tip: Every year during the fall season, create a “gratitude pumpkin” and write 1 thing that you’re thankful for each day on it.

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Remember, this is a new practice and will come with some challenges. Be thankful for choosing the short line at the grocery store, someone holding the door for you on your way into the office, or even just for stretchy pants. If nothing else, start by slowing down and trying to pay attention on purpose. You just might find that this practice alone helps you to practice gratitude.

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