Editor's note: Dana Santas is known as the "Mobility Maker" and is a certified strength-conditioning specialist and coach in professional sports. She is also the author of "Practical Solutions for Back Pain Relief".
It is easy to feel grateful when things are going well or holidays like Thanksgiving call for it. Being grateful should not be limited to good times or special occasions, just like showing love shouldn’t be reserved for happy times and special occasions such as anniversaries.
You can be thankful every day with a little effort. Regular gratitude practice can have many benefits for your health and wellbeing that will increase your happiness all year.
Undoubtedly, stress is one of the greatest obstacles to long-term happiness. It is possible to reduce stress, which is a great thing. Numerous studies conducted during the pandemic revealed that even when faced with significant psychological stressors, practicing gratitude was able to reduce stress levels and improve mood.
Gratitude can help reduce depression and improve self-esteem. This is especially beneficial for young adults who are experiencing anxiety, depression and stress due to social media use.
A study of over 1,000 high school students revealed that daily gratitude practices lead to greater life satisfaction, motivation, and retention. Another study found a link between gratitude exercises and decreased suicide risk among college students.
Science has proven that gratitude is a powerful and important skill for all ages. It takes practice, just like any skill worth learning.
Do you want to feel happier and less stressed? You can try one or more of these four simple daily gratitude practices.
You can create a gratitude album using your smartphone
You can create a gratitude album using your phone's camera app. Every day, make it a point to add at most one photo of something that makes your heart happy. Your images don't have to be photos of actual objects. Images of text messages, events in your calendar and other meaningful information can be included. It's okay to be creative, but don't let it get in the way of your freedom. Your album building should be fun.
After you have started to fill your album with images make it a point that you replace your time scrolling through social networks with scrolling through your gratitude album. Instead of comparing your life to others online, spend a few moments every day appreciating the positive aspects in your own life. It doesn't take much research to see how much this would benefit your mental health.
You can take a deep breath and restore your patience.
It can be hard to slow down in a culture that is obsessed with instant gratification. Instead, try being patient and finding presence. You can always be present in the moment with your breath. If you stop and concentrate on your breathing, you will find presence. You can take breathing breaks by taking a break for 90 seconds and deep breathing several times per day.
Research shows that gratitude can reduce impatience. Being able to breathe is a life-sustaining force. It is easy to feel grateful. As you take your breath breaks, focus on being grateful for each breath. A combination of a focus on the breath and a feeling of gratitude will help you cultivate patience and a sense that you are present and calm.
Spread your gratitude to others
Tell someone every day that you are grateful for their help, presence, or any other good. For an even greater impact, you can send them a note, text them, call them, or write them a letter. You can share your gratitude with someone else to increase happiness.
These benefits are even more evident in romantic relationships. Research has shown that partners are more open to one another's needs, and they express greater satisfaction in a relationship when they are grateful for their partner.
Research shows that expressing gratitude to each other continues to have a positive long-term effect on relationships six to nine month later.
For a restful night, close your eyes and be grateful
Reflect on three things you are grateful for at the end of each day. These things should be written down. These can be written down in a notebook, on a notepad, or placed somewhere visible where they will be seen the next day. My husband and I keep a whiteboard in our master bath. We each write three things every night as we get ready to go to bed. It's a great way to be able to share our gratitude lists with one another and get to sleep feeling grateful. Research has shown a link between gratitude, better sleep, and even more.
You don't need to have a list of expensive items or monumental achievements on your nightly list. Avoid focusing on material things, as it can lead to lower happiness. You could also include time with friends and family, good food, exercise, and taking a walk. The little things are often the most important when it comes to gratitude.