Given the events of the past months, it can be hard to dig deep and be positive. Artis offers up some ways to incorporate gratitude into your life in order to reap the rewards of seeking out positivity. As with most things, creating a routine is a way to make behaviors stick and become consistent.
The Benefits of a Daily Gratitude Habit
If it sometimes feels as though family and work stresses or world events are overwhelming, be aware that you can train your brain to be happier with an easy daily gratitude practice. Various studies have documented the beneficial effects of gratitude on the brain. Regularly and consciously focusing on positive aspects of your day and life can improve mental health, increase happiness, and reduce anxiety. Beautiful sunny weather. A chance encounter with an old friend. Colorful flowers in the garden on your way to the mailbox. The wonderful aroma of baking bread in a store you passed. By repeatedly making your brain access these happy memories, you re-create the positive emotions associated with them.
Set Reminders or Prompts
Having a routine and sticking to it is key. Practicing gratitude doesn’t have to be a big time commitment – as little as one minute can be enough. Set an alarm on your phone, a reminder in your calendar, or place sticky notes on your bathroom mirror or refrigerator. Carve out an established time each day that works for you and your schedule. After a few weeks, you’ll probably find that it’s become a habit and you may not even need the reminders any more.
A Moment of Reflection at Mealtime
One of the simplest and most common ways to incorporate gratitude daily is to make it a part of mealtime. This can be super simple: Before you start eating, just recall one thing you’re grateful for that happened today. Boom – done! If you’re with family, you can go around the table and everyone can share something. If you’re alone or not comfortable sharing, you can do it silently.
The act of writing down (or typing) things you’re grateful for, or gratitude journaling, may be the next step in your practice. You can use a special notebook, a pretty journal, loose pieces of paper, or just create a document on your computer and type up your daily gratitude list. It’s best if you set aside a dedicated time each day to make sure you do this regularly – even if it’s just five minutes in the morning before things get hectic, or right before bedtime. Journaling essentially doubles the positive effect, because you first recall the happy memory, and then experience the appreciation again as you’re writing it down.
Create a Gratitude Jar
This is a quick, simple exercise that can have substantial, cumulative benefits. Find a medium-size jar or box, a pen, and small slips or squares of paper to keep nearby. You can decorate it if you wish. At least three times each day, think of things you are grateful for, write them on the slips of paper and place them in the jar. This not only provides daily reminders of the positive things in your life, but as the gratitude jar fills, it gives visual evidence of the fact there’s a lot to be thankful for. And if you’re having a bad day, re-read some of the things you’ve written down previously as a pick-me-up.
The trick to this tactic is that the rock is a physical prompt to help you focus on gratitude. Find a pretty or interesting rock and place it somewhere that you’ll notice it several times a day – on your desk, the table in your entryway, on your mantel, or you can even carry it in your pocket. Each time you touch or see it throughout the day, pause to think of one small thing you’re grateful for.
For more tips on self care and senior living, check out the Artis Senior Living blog.
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