Do you practice gratitude?
Or do you label is as ‘woo woo’
Or are you still stuck on the fence?
In recent years, research into the power of gratitude has identified the importance that practicing daily gratitude has on our sense of happiness and well-being. When we practice gratitude consistently, and over a duration of time, we can train our brain to focus on what is going well, and develop a sense of optimism. This allows us to develop a growth mindset, and therefore manage setbacks and adversity more effectively.
To practice gratitude, we need to be able to recognise and acknowledge what we are grateful for.
It has been found, that gratitude actually creates physical reactions in our brains, lighting up reward pathways and boosting serotonin and activating the brain stem, which produces dopamine – which makes us feel good!
Remember that old adage ‘where focus goes – energy flows’
If we focus on negatives – we grow negative sensations and activate stress.
If we focus on gratitudes – we grow positive sensations and activate feel good hormones.
Practicing gratitude helps us to:
- Feel more positive emotions
- See the good in our day / world
- Relish our good experiences
- Improve our health
- Deal with adversity
- Build strong relationships
- Be in the moment
When we do not practice gratitude, we can find ourselves:
- Trapped in unbalanced emotions
- Feeling that nothing goes right for us
- Having unbalanced thinking
An interesting aspect of my work as a therapist, (which I also found when I was teaching) is that many children who come to me with issues sleeping, have developed a practice of talking about worries at bedtime.
Interestingly, one of the things we speak about is that bedtime is often the quiet space of the day, daytimes are filled with homework, after-school clubs, sports and activities, or screen-time and hobbies. However, in those later hours we finally process our day, and then….. we introduce concepts such as worry monsters or bedtime worries.
Funny isn’t it, that we encourage a practice of writing worries and feeding them to our monsters, yet then the monster sits in our bedroom holding them whilst we try to settle – whilst simultaneously staring at us…
Now, I am by no means monster bashing, or subjecting monsters to the cancel culture, monsters can be a great tool to open up communication and express feelings, which is key to emotional literacy, but we do need to consider the time and place that we use these in.
So, I tend to suggest that worry monsters feature earlier on, and are kept downstairs – away from our bedrooms. For those who were kids in the 80s, subject the worry monster to being part of Trap Door…..out of sight…
Talking through worries is great, and really important, however for children who can get stuck in their negative thoughts, or only see the worst case scenario – gratitude can be an impactful strategy for training mind-sets. Instead, I advocate for gratitude practices at bedtime, where we can focus on the neural pathways we need to feel rested.
Initially, practicing gratitude is a conscious behaviour, we might think of recording our gratitude’s in different ways, such as:
- Keep a journal of our daily gratitude’s
- Use an app to record our gratitude’s
- Keep a gratitude scrap book
- Sending gratitude’s or notes of appreciation to others (written or electronic)
- Recording gratitude’s on post-it’s on a notice board
Positive mind-set is a practice that we need to take action for. If we want to feel good, we need to first start doing things to create the spaces for it. The more consistent we are with recording our gratitude’s, the more automatic and natural the practice becomes. You might find yourself:
- Reciting gratitude’s in the day
- Saying gratitude’s to others
Our youngest clients may keep a positivity diary, whilst older clients will better understand the concept of gratitude to follow gratitude diaries and practices.
Modelling to children our gratitude causes a ripple effect. We are children’s greatest teachers. The more we do it, the more it spreads. To develop a growth mind-set, we need to pay close attention to HOW we use our thoughts and words. Over time, we will then also find that we can:
- Accept gratitude’s from others
- Recognise our own self-worth
Want to learn more?
© Dandelion Training and Development – All Rights Reserved
For more articles about mental health visit – ARTICLES
To learn more about child and adolescent mental health visit – COURSES
For resources to support child and adolescent mental health visit –RESOURCES