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Gratitude as Self-Care

Last time, we found out how and why it’s a great idea to boost your creativity to support your health and well-being. Let’s add to this mini-series around self-care, by looking at another fantastic resource. Today, we’re talking about gratitude.


Gratitude

Gratitude is a simple and highly effective resource for your self-care. You can think of this as being thankful. Gratitude also means you are willing to show your appreciation and return kindness to others in your life.



Benefits of gratitude

So why is this an important personal resource? Some of the main benefits of gratitude are that it:


  • Reduces anxiety and stress, while increasing positive affect

  • Improves your physical health

  • Leads to better sleep

  • Increases your awareness

  • Can lead to improved social relationships

  • May produce long-lasting positive effects.


Importantly, gratitude is not just something that you can feel, it is something that can be expressed through actions, behaviours, and gestures. Your brain responds to this by releasing dopamine and serotonin, which can have a positive impact on your mood.



Gratitude and mood

When you are feeling positive and upbeat, it may seem like it is easier to find things to be grateful for. However, feeling and expressing gratitude is a powerful personal resource that can support you to boost your resilience even during times of adversity.


It is a mental skill that you can learn and develop over time. This means that the real value of gratitude lies in its power to transform your perception of challenges you may be facing. For example, developing the skill of finding things to be grateful for, even when things are tough, is incredibly beneficial for your well-being.



Does all of this sound good to you? Keep reading for some top tips on activities to try yourself, to boost your gratitude.


Activities to try

You could have a go at the following simple activities, and notice any positive impact on your health and well-being:


  • Begin by using the infographic below. Be mindfully aware of the healthy lifestyle choice you have made in going for a walk and try to feel appreciation for this choice. You know that by going for a walk, you are doing something that will benefit your mental and physical well-being. What positive emotions do you experience after your walk?



  • Keep a gratitude journal. Each day, write down three things you are grateful for and try to vary this from day to day.

  • Being aware of how you are feeling in the moment is an important aspect of gratitude. Have a go at improving your emotional awareness using our interactive tool.

  • Practise cognitive reframing. If you are finding it a challenge to come up with things that you are grateful for, you could try to reframe your perception. When facing a stressor or difficulty in a particular moment, you could consider changing your perception to think of your challenge in a more positive way. For example, might you view this challenge as an opportunity to learn a life lesson that will ultimately benefit you and your life? We are richer because of the challenges we face.

  • Show someone in your life that you are grateful for them. You could phone a friend or family member and tell them how much you appreciate them. Or, how about a simple gesture such as making someone a cup of tea, or taking your pet dog for an extra-long walk that you know they will enjoy? Notice what it feels like to express your appreciation for those you care about.



How did you get on with these activities? How easy is it to feel and express gratitude in your daily life? We’d love to hear your thoughts over on Twitter using #MSTtoolkit #MST4Life.


If you would like to check out our other infographics, you can download them for free.


To have a go at our other interactive tools, you can check them out here.


For a range of mental skills techniques to boost your resilience and well-being, you can download our free toolkit.



Don’t forget to subscribe to our blog using the link at the bottom of this page. Stay tuned for more top tips on how to ensure your self-care.



Photo credit: SCcreative.co, cerose, and Raegan on Reshot.

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