A great day at work, the rain stopping just before you run for the bus, or even a thumbs up from family after they’ve had the first taste of dinner… Whatever they might be, there will always be moments in your life to feel grateful for. They may seem like fleeting mood-boosters, but have you ever considered how you could use these moments to support your mental wellbeing in the long run? Here’s how to create a gratitude ritual and make it a part of your mental health routine.
Regularly practicing gratitude can have remarkable effects on your wellbeing, with some research suggesting that gratitude may be associated with better sleep and focus1. It could also enhance and strengthen personal relationships2, which is not only good for you, but your family and friends too! Feeling appreciative for some things might often seem to boil down to external forces (after all, you’re probably most often grateful for things like a bit of good luck or someone’s kindness), but that doesn’t mean you can’t give your feelings of gratitude a helpful nudge in the right direction.
While we all have our own daily rituals, different lifestyles and personalities mean that they can take a lot of forms, and your own set of rituals might be vastly different from someone else’s. Finding the right habit or ritual for you can mean the difference between sticking to it and letting it slip away. Regardless, whichever way you decide to appreciate the good things in life - big or small - know that you’re building on that sense of happiness within yourself.
So, let’s take a look at some gratitude ritual ideas.
Your very own gratitude journal
When was the last time you put your thoughts into writing? Not your thoughts about your work deadlines. Not your thoughts about your budget for the week. Your thoughts about you. Being aware of what you’re thankful for means taking the time to think about your experiences, and a great way to remember them is to write them down. Spend a few minutes each day writing down what you’re grateful for. It doesn’t have to be big — it could be as small as being grateful for the taste of your morning coffee. Whatever you’re feeling grateful for is completely up to you, as is how many ‘gratitude entries’ you’d like to put on your list. If you’re not feeling up to a once a day commitment, remember that it’s your ritual to help your wellbeing. Why not make a habit of it every few days, or even once a week?
Digital vs. analogue
If reading the word ‘journal’ has you reaching for the nearest pen, then you might want to find a diary-style book that you can write your gratitudes in. Don’t forget to err on the smaller side if you want to keep it with you throughout the day. On the other hand, don’t be put off if you want your ritual to stay in the digital sphere. Using a notes or calendar app on your phone, tablet or computer is an easy way to keep your gratitude journal as tech-savvy as you are. And for the super-organised, set yourself a daily or weekly reminder to spend a few minutes on what’s making you grateful.