Gratitude for Your Mental Health

By: Jamie Gurgul, Communications & Events Director, NAMI Wisconsin

Happy Thanksgiving! This holiday is the perfect reason for all of us to stop our busy lives and celebrate what we are most thankful for.

Truth be told, Thanksgiving is a great reminder that we should practice gratitude every day. Although gratitude is most commonly emphasized during the holiday season, research continually shows us that cultivating gratitude on a daily basis can contribute to overall psychological well-being.  

Gratitude is known to reduce many toxic emotions from your body, such as anger, jealousy, frustration, and regret. While eliminating these toxic feelings, gratitude highlights your positive emotions, like happiness, joy, and serenity.

In addition to these positive emotions, grateful people generally are likely to show more kindness to people around them. According to a 2012 study conducted by the University of Kentucky, individuals who express gratitude are less likely to seek ‘revenge’ against others.

Expressing gratitude not only helps with positive mental health, but also contributes to physical health. Individuals who frequently express gratitude are more likely to take care of their bodies through exercise and healthy eating. The same individuals often find lower blood pressure and cholesterol, demonstrating the effects of positive psychology.

Some ways in which gratitude can contribute to positive mental health include: healthier relationships, increased levels of self-confidence, improved sleep patterns, a stronger sense of empathy & forgiveness, and a stronger determination for hope & recovery.

In the hustle and bustle of our everyday lives, it’s hard to set time aside to practice gratitude each day. We recommend scheduling some of these practices into your daily schedule:

  1. Keep a gratitude journal
  2. Take notice of the little things in life
  3. Write thank you letters
  4. Focus on the positive
  5. Embrace your emotions
  6. Volunteer in your community
  7. Take a walk and focus on the things you are thankful for
  8. Thank the important people in your life
  9. Think of memories you are thankful for
  10. Say thank you, always.

During this holiday season, we challenge you to continue your gratitude through the rest of the coming year. Your body and mind will thank you!

From all of us at NAMI Wisconsin, we wish you a happy and healthy Thanksgiving!

Written by Jamie Gurgul, Communications & Events Director