Gratitude and Its Mental Health Benefits
With Thanksgiving just around the corner, there is no doubt we are now entering the busy holiday season. Thanksgiving is a time for family and friends to get together and celebrate good food and good company and most importantly, give thanks the good things in their lives.
The holiday season, while the happiest time of the year for many, can bring about its own slew of mental health challenges for parents, children, and teens. Working with your children and teens to practice gratitude is one of the many ways to tackle seasonal depression. Practicing gratitude throughout the year can reduce stress and elevate moods.
Showing gratitude has been proven to improve:
- MOOD: Expressing gratitude improves your mood and focuses you on the positives in your life
- RELATIONSHIPS: Expressing gratitude with friends and family improves relationships. Who doesn’t love hearing nice things? Feeling appreciated is sure to improve any relationship with family, friends, or classmates.
- HEALTH: Expressing gratitude improves your health – not only mentally but physically. When you practice gratitude your mood is generally better, when your mood is better people are often more motivated to exercise and get outside – often further improving both mood and health.
How to Show Gratitude
Expressing gratitude is key to taking charge of you and your family’s mental health. In what ways can we express our gratitude during this season of thanks?
- LIST: Write a list of everything you are thankful for – include the everyday things: food to eat, the companionship of a pet, a warm bed to sleep in. Recognizing the little things often creates a greater sense of mindfulness and gratitude.
- VERBAL: Take turns saying what you are thankful for at Thanksgiving Dinner
- JOURNAL: Keep a daily gratitude journal.
- MEDITATE: Take the time to reflect on the good things in your life with your child or teen
- GIVE THANKS: Send someone a thank you note. Expressing your gratitude for someone or something they did not only brings your attention to another thing to be thankful for, but changes are it will also brighten their day and bring thankfulness to their lives.
The Thanksgiving holiday is the perfect time to begin the ongoing practice of showing gratitude. By slowing down and remembering to be thankful we can avoid the stress of the holiday season and take care of the mental health of our children and ourselves.
If you observe signs and symptoms of stress in your child or teen and believe it may be more than holiday stress, call our admissions team today for a free and confidential screening at (805) 366-4000.
“The Mental Health Benefits of Gratitude.” n.d. Www.nationwidechildrens.org. Accessed November 12, 2021. https://www.nationwidechildrens.org/family-resources-education/700childrens/2020/05/gratitude#:~:text=Showing%20gratitude%20has%20the%20following%20mental%20health%20benefits%3A.
“The Impact of Gratitude on Mental Health.” n.d. NAMI California. Accessed November 12, 2021. https://namica.org/blog/the-impact-of-gratitude-on-mental-health/.
“The Positive Impact of Gratitude on Mental Health | Psychology Today.” n.d. Www.psychologytoday.com. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/comfort-gratitude/202006/the-positive-impact-gratitude-mental-health.
“How to Practice Gratitude & Improve Your Family’s Mental Health.” n.d. HealthyChildren.org. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/healthy-living/emotional-wellness/Building-Resilience/Pages/how-to-practice-gratitude.aspx.