We all know how important exercise is to maintaining our physical health. What's easier to forget is how important it is to take care of ourselves mentally. In a world where stress is constant and it sometimes feels like we're competing to be the busiest, it's crucial to take moments to ourselves to practice self-care. And as simple as it may sound, gratitude can be a huge part of this.
Gratitude and Self Care
Multiple studies have linked gratitude to improved self-care. In fact, those who regularly feel gratitude are more likely to keep up healthy habits and make sensible decisions. Perhaps when we take time to appreciate what we have, we are more inclined to protect it by taking care of ourselves.
What's more, the benefits of gratitude as a self-care method are far from fleeting. According to Emma Seppälä, a happiness researcher at Stanford and Yale, "Gratitude is something that leads to much more sustainable forms of happiness, because it's not based in [...] immediate gratification; it's a frame of mind." In other words, feeling thankful for what we have gives us more than just momentary satisfaction. Instead, gratitude gives us a better perspective on life that leads to a deeper fulfillment and improved mental health.
Putting it in Practice
It's not hard to make gratitude a part of your daily routine. Here are some suggestions on how to make it work for you.
Reflect every morning. Taking a moment when you wake up to think about what you're grateful for helps set the tone for a positive day and keep you focused on what's important.
Keep a gratitude journal. At the end of each day, try writing down one thing that made you feel fortunate during the day. Ending the day on a positive note helps reduce your stress and might even help you sleep.
Slow down. Whenever you find yourself feeling anxious, take a moment to stop, breath, and focus on gratitude. Even a short minute of mindfulness can help you calm down.
Incorporate gratitude fully with other habits. For instance, every time you go to the gym, set an intention to respect your body and everything it does for you. Not only will this quell negative self-talk, but it will help you cultivate a permanent mindset of gratitude. Even better, since you're associating a new habit with an old one, you'll have an easier time sticking with it.