This is the time of year we are all reminded to be thankful for what we have. We have the holidays full of friends, family and good food. We have opportunities to be charitable to others less fortunate than us, which in turn helps us be more grateful for what we have.
The end of the year approaching can inspire us to be reflective over what’s happened in our lives- both the good things and the lessons learned from challenges. When you look back and appreciate all that’s happened, you may find yourself feeling lighter, the days look brighter, and life seems easier. That’s the power of practicing gratitude. And the good news is that you’re not limited to practicing only two months out of the year.
Benefits of Practicing Gratitude
Your general perspective greatly impacts your overall well-being and gratitude is a great tool for shifting your perspective towards the positive. Research supports that when people practice gratitude, their overall happiness increases, their relationships improve, life is easier to manage, and feelings of overwhelm decrease.
Studies have found that writing thank you notes to someone in your life who hadn’t been directly thanked previously boosted the sender’s happiness for an entire month. Companies who have managers that express gratitude to their employees find the employees are more motivated to do well at work. Dr. Brené Brown notes in her research that gratitude leads to a fuller and more wholehearted life.
Thankfulness doesn’t only apply to material possessions or people. We can apply the same lens to life events and our work. In industries like mental and behavioral health and social services, gratitude can be the catalyst for real change in a person’s life.
How Gratitude Impacts Mental Health Services
By regularly focusing on things to be grateful for, we can prevent burnout and reduce turnover in the mental and behavioral health services industry. Our society needs helpers. Therapists, counselors, and social workers have incredibly important and powerful jobs to help people heal and improve their lives. It’s also hard work and at times feels heavy emotionally, especially when working with clients who are on a long road to recovery.
It can be all too easy to just go through the motions of life and work where the focus becomes getting tasks done instead of recognizing what it means when they are completed. When you can find little things to be thankful for, you’ll have an easier time maintaining a realistic and positive perspective.
Different Gratitude Practices
An article by Harvard Medical School gave an overview of multiple studies and findings on gratitude. They outline some easy and accessible options for practicing gratitude on a regular basis.
1. Write a thank-you note.
You can make yourself happier and nurture your relationship with another person by writing a thank-you letter or email expressing your enjoyment and appreciation of that person's impact on your life. Send it, or better yet, deliver and read it in person if possible. Make a habit of sending at least one gratitude letter a month. Once in a while, write one to yourself.
2. Thank someone mentally.
No time to write? It may help just to think about someone who has done something nice for you, and mentally thank the individual.
3. Keep a gratitude journal.
Make it a habit to write down or share with a loved one thoughts about the gifts you've received each day.
4. Count your blessings.
Pick a time every week to sit down and write about your blessings — reflecting on what went right or what you are grateful for. Sometimes it helps to pick a number — such as three to five things — that you will identify each week. As you write, be specific and think about the sensations you felt when something good happened to you.
People who are religious can use prayer to cultivate gratitude.
Mindfulness meditation involves focusing on the present moment without judgment. Although people often focus on a word or phrase (such as "peace"), it is also possible to focus on what you're grateful for (the warmth of the sun, a pleasant sound, etc.).
There is a Lot to be Thankful For
It’s understandable that asking you to take time out of an already hectic season to practice gratitude seems unreasonable and one more task to add to your list. However, studies show that by taking this brief pause, you’ll make your holiday tasks and engagements feel more manageable and you’ll have a better outlook on life. We think it’s a fair trade.
We believe everyone deserves a chance to have a fulfilling life, regardless of circumstances or diagnoses. Our clients’ hopes are safeguarded by the excellence of our employees who we are deeply thankful for. They commit their strengths, talents and resources to help others achieve their goals and improve their overall well-being. If you want to be a part of an organization that practices gratitude and helps make the world a better place for its clients, we invite you to click the link below to see our current openings.