Practicing Gratitude

It is that time of year when many of us begin to focus on what we are thankful for. This year, things might look different, but it is important to find even small things to be extra grateful for. According to Psychology Today, being grateful can improve one’s physical and mental health, increase empathy, reduce aggression, improve sleep and bolster self-esteem.

Here are some ideas to consider:

  • KEEP TRACK OF WHAT YOU ARE GRATEFUL FOR. Write what you are grateful for on a slip of paper and place it in a gratitude jar to take out and reflect on later. Or start a gratitude journal where you write what you are thankful for in a notebook.
  • KEEP IT SIMPLE. Sometimes the small things in our lives are the best things. So when practicing gratitude, it is okay to remember and reflect on the little things.
  • BE KIND TO YOURSELF. In the beginning, you may struggle to come up with things you appreciate in your life. You may also have a bad day where it seems impossible to express gratitude. In these moments, remember to be kind to yourself.
  • CONSIDER A GRATITUDE BUDDY. Engage in a gratitude activity, such as the jar or journal, with someone you are close with—maybe a close friend, significant other, or roommates.
  • GIVE BACK. This may not be as possible as it once was, but if the opportunity arises and you are able, consider giving back to others or volunteering as a way to express your gratitude.

—Bethanie Mauerman, BA ’15 (psychology and sociology), MEd ’18 (clinical mental health counseling), licensed professional counselor and doctoral candidate in health education and promotion

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