We are fast approaching Thanksgiving, a holiday that brings with it many things. Football, home cooked meals, and time with family and friends. Perhaps more than anything, as the name implies, it is a holiday about giving thanks. Not only can this make for some truly meaningful dinner table conversations, the act of giving thanks can lead to significant positive benefits to your mental health.
Gratitude has been regularly associated with happiness, and taking time to express feelings of appreciation helps people experience more positive emotions, improve their mental and physical health, and build strong relationships.
Expressing gratitude can take many forms. Harvard Health makes a few suggestions, such as writing somebody a thank you note to somebody you appreciate, telling them how you feel. Don’t have time for that? Even taking a pause to mentally thank somebody can still provide benefits!
Gratitude doesn’t need to be expressed towards others to be helpful. Studies show that keeping a gratitude journal—in which you take time to write down a few things in your life that you are thankful for—can be a fantastic way to boost mental health. For example, in one study, researchers asked one group of participants to spend a few months writing just a few sentences a week about things that they felt grateful for. Compared to those that wrote about things that bothered them, the gratitude group reported feeling more optimistic, felt better about their lives, and even spent more time exercising.
Feel like getting started with gratitude journaling? There are a number of digital tools that can make it easy and convenient to do so.
The Gratitude App is available for free on the Apple Store and Google Play and is designed to give you a space to note feelings of gratitude with ease, while also providing a charming boost through daily quotes and affirmations.
ThinkUp has a free version on the Apple Store and Google Play, with a subscription option providing additional perks. With the free app, you can record your favorite self-affirmations and statements of gratitude and play them along with your favorite music. This gives you a soothing soundtrack to boost your daily mood.
Need a little extra motivation to express your gratitude? 365Gratitude is an app that provides you with prompts to follow, and lets you win awards and medallions for completing daily gratitude goals. The app also has a daily mood tracker, so that you can see the impacts of your work over time. The app has a $4.99 monthly cost, though there is a free trial available to see if you like it.
Expressing gratitude is a simple task, and even though it may seem too good to be true, taking time to do so can have a tremendous impact on your mental health. So this year, when you gather around the Thanksgiving dinner table and give thanks, try making it the start of a new healthy habit.
Giving Thanks Can Make You Happier (2021) https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/giving-thanks-can-make-you-happier