4 Daily Gratitude Practices Reduce Stress and Increase Happiness

Editor’s note: Dana Santas, known as the “Mobility Maker”, is a certified strength and conditioning specialist and mind-body coach in professional sports, and is the author of the book “Practical Solutions for Back Pain Relief”.


It’s easy to have a sense of gratitude when things are going your way or when the holidays, like Thanksgiving, dictate. But just as showing love shouldn’t be reserved only for good times and special occasions like birthdays, being grateful shouldn’t only happen under optimal conditions or on designated days.

With just a little effort, you can find reasons to be grateful every day โ€” and practicing gratitude regularly has many health and wellness benefits that can increase your lifelong happiness. year.

Stress is arguably one of the biggest obstacles to long-term happiness. Fortunately (pun intended), one of the greatest benefits of being grateful is its power to alleviate stress. Numerous studies during the pandemic have shown that even in the face of significant psychological stressors, practicing gratitude has the ability to reduce stress and improve mood.

Gratitude practices can also reduce depression and increase self-esteem. This mood and confidence booster is especially useful for young adults suffering from stress, anxiety and depressive symptoms related to social media use.

A study of more than 1,000 high school students found that a daily practice of gratitude promoted greater life satisfaction and motivation, while another study showed a link between gratitude and decreased suicide risk among students.

Science has shown us that gratitude is an important and powerful skill for anyone at any age โ€“ and like any skill worth mastering, it takes practice.

Want to be less stressed and happier? Try one or more of the four easy-to-follow daily gratitude practices listed below.

Create a gratitude album in your phone’s photo app and make sure once a day to add at least one picture of something that makes you grateful. You don’t need to have any special photography skills, and your images don’t even have to be images of real things. You can include screenshots of meaningful text message exchanges, events on your calendar, and more. You can be creative, but keep it simple so you don’t feel pressured. Building your scrapbook should be a joyful practice.

Once you’ve started filling your album with pictures, be sure to replace some of your time browsing social media with time spent scrolling through images in your gratitude album. Instead of comparing your life with others online, you’ll spend a few minutes each day appreciating all the goodness in your own life. You don’t need research to tell you how much better it would be for your mental health!

In a culture of immediate gratification, it can be hard to slow down, be patient, and find presence. Your breath always happens in the present moment, so when you really stop and focus on your breath, you can find presence. I recommend taking breath breaks by pausing for just 90 seconds of deep breathing a few times a day.

According to research, being in a state of gratitude can curb impatience. It’s easy to be grateful for your ability to breathe, since your breath is literally a life force. During your breathing pauses, as you breathe deeply, focus on your gratitude for the ability to take each breath. Combining a focus on the breath with a state of gratitude will cultivate patience and create a sense of calm and presence.

Every day, tell someone – anyone – that you are grateful for them, their help, their presence, or whatever else comes to mind. You can write them a letter, text them, call them, or do it in person for even more impact. Sharing gratitude with another person increases happiness for both of you.

The benefits are even greater in romantic relationships, where research has shown that partners are more sensitive to each other’s needs and express greater satisfaction in the relationship after being grateful from their partner.

Plus, expressing gratitude to one another continues to have a long-term positive effect on relationships six to nine months later, depending on the results.

At the end of each day, think about three things that make you grateful. Write them down. You can use a journal, a notes app on your phone, or put them somewhere prominent where you’ll see them the next morning. I have a whiteboard hanging in our master bathroom where my husband and I each write down three things every night as we get ready for bed. We have the advantage of being able to share our gratitude list with each other and go to bed feeling grateful. Even better, research has found a possible link between gratitude and improved sleep.

Your nightly list doesn’t have to include monumental accomplishments or expensive things. In fact, you should avoid focusing too much on acquiring things because materialism is linked to less happiness. Your list could include your health, time spent with friends or family, a good dinner, a nice walk, etc. When it comes to gratitude, the little things really are the big things.


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