Recently I received an email from a friend asking what he can do to practice gratitude and mindfulness first thing every morning. He was looking for ideas that were simple and quick, so he could make this part of his daily routine. He found that when he practiced gratitude, his outlook changed. He was in a better mood, he had more energy, and he was more productive. He confessed he didn’t know whether it was a placebo effect or if there was actual science behind it, but it worked for him.
A recent article published by Greater Good Magazine reported that practicing gratitude does in fact improve mental health. The research study conducted on 300 students at Berkeley University showed that when individuals wrote “gratitude letters” to themselves regularly, their mental health improved significantly. How? Through several studies, the practice of gratitude has been shown to increase positive outlook, improve physical health, and can even help you sleep better.
Practicing gratitude does take work. You have to put in the energy to strengthen your “gratitude muscle”. Here are 5 simple ways to add the practice of gratitude into your daily routine.
- First thing after opening your eyes, stretch. Lift your arms, point your toes, take deep breathes for your lungs, like you do when practicing yoga. Feel your muscles and your body wake up. Appreciate your body and grateful that this vessels is healthy enough to stretch and move.
- Resist the urge to look at your phone for at least 15 minutes. Here are some things you can do instead.
- Drink a big glass of warm water or tea
- Hug your partner, kids, dogs, cat
- Tell someone you love them
- Brush your teeth
- Write in your gratitude journal
- Meditate. There are several forms of mediation you can practice. You can sit in silence for 10 minutes. You can go for a walk, without your phone. You can make a cup of tea, focusing on each step and savoring every sip. This is a time to just be. Not think.
- On your commute (to work or to drop off the kids), listen to an inspirational podcast or book. Here are some of my favorites:
- How to be a Badass by Jen Sincero
- The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
- Lewis Howes’ School of Greatness Podcast
- Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations Podcast
- As you go through your day and interact with people, be present. Look people in the eye. Say hello to strangers. Smile at people you walk by. Ask people how their day is. Making these connections makes you feel part of a community and it makes you feel good.Try it out.
All of these suggestions do not require a lot of time. They are meant to be simple so that you can actually implement them into your day.
Are you ready for the challenge? Invest in these 5 practices of gratitude for 7 days. After the 7 days, check in with yourself and notice how you feel. I promise that you will notice a difference in your mental state. But don’t stop after 7 days. Challenge yourself to another 7 days. Keep it moving. Remember that practicing gratitude does take some work. You have make the time to put energy into it. Know that the benefits will be worth it.
How do you practice gratitude?