The word gratitude is from the Latin word ‘Gratia,’ which means gratefulness, grace, or graciousness. It’s a grateful appreciation of what a person has.
It is believed that counting blessings and giving thanks can help lower stress improve sleep and interpersonal relationships.
Scientifically gratitude helps reduce anxiety, stress, pain, depression and builds a sense of satisfaction with one’s life. Gratitude improves self-esteem, thus driving performance and productivity in daily life. Practicing gratitude regularly impacts our physical and mental health and others around us.
Stages of Gratitude
There are three stages of gratitude:
The first stage is recognizing and knowing that you’ll be okay—it realizes that you have a life worth living despite your struggles and challenges. This helps you understand that you are at a better spot in many dimensions than you once thought. You start seeing a cup as half full rather than half empty. Recognize that your circumstances could be bad, but you have close friends and family who care and love you.
The second stage is acknowledgment. Its acceptance of the truth or existence of something. Accept that you can not only see the light at the end of the tunnel, but you can also feel it. Accept that your life is taking a positive turn. This gives you hope, courage, and energy to take steps you may have been too tired or fearful of taking.
The third and last stage is appreciation. Begin to appreciate close friends and family who have been there for you. Appreciate yourself for making difficult decisions and surviving.
In psychology research, gratitude is consistently and strongly associated with increased happiness. Gratitude helps individuals build strong relationships, feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve health, build strong relationships, and deal with adversity.
People express and feel gratitude in many ways, including:
- Being thankful for the positive memories of childhood or past blessings
- Not taking for granted good fortune when it comes (present)
- Having and maintaining an optimistic attitude
- Complimenting yourself after reaching a goal
- Make yourself promises and keep them
- Doing something little for someone else
- Keep a gratitude journal, list, or jar
Benefits of Gratitude on Mental Health
The benefits of gratitude on mental health include:
Gratitude improves self-esteem
Practicing gratitude improves self-esteem, which is a crucial component of optimal performance.
Gratitude also reduces social comparisons. Instead of admiring people with better jobs or money — a significant factor to reduced self-esteem and increased stress and anxiety — grateful people can appreciate others’ achievements.
Low self-esteem creates stress, anxiety, loneliness, and increased chances of depression. It can also develop unhealthy habits, like drug abuse and alcohol, to cope with stress and depression.
Low self-esteem can also cause problems with romantic relationships and friendships, which can lead a person to loneliness, stress, and even depression. It may also impair job and academic performance, affecting your mental health.
Improves Your Sleep
According to a 2011 study published in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-being, writing a gratitude journal can improve sleep. They suggest that writing a 15 minutes gratitude journal before bed may make you sleep better and longer.
Quality sleep has several mental health benefits, including:
- Quality sleep improves brain function, helps improve alertness, concentration, cognition, performance, and productivity
- It also enhances memory performance and improves problem-solving skills
- Enough sleep helps balance the stress hormone cortisol, which helps improve mood and reduce stress. Lack of sleep increases cortisol levels, leading to anxiety, depression, rapid weight gain, skin bruises, muscle weakness, diabetes, and many other health conditions.
Increases Mental Strength
Practicing gratitude is the simplest and fastest way to build mental strength. It changes your mindset by boosting self-esteem, increasing resilience, and helping you view situations positively.
For years, studies have shown that being grateful reduces stress and plays a significant role in overcoming trauma.
A 2006 study found that veterans from the Vietnam War with higher levels of gratitude had lower post-traumatic stress disorder rates than those who didn’t.
A 2003 study discovered that individuals who practiced gratitude were happier than those who didn’t. The same research shows that appreciation contributed significantly to resilience following the terrorist attacks on September 11.
Recognizing and appreciating all you have to be thankful for, even during difficult times, increases resilience.
Improves Psychological Health
Practicing gratitude helps reduce multiple toxic emotions, including resentment, envy, regret, and frustration.
According to Robert Emmons, a leading researcher, who has conducted several studies on the correlation between gratitude and wellbeing, his studies conclude that gratitude effectively increases happiness and reduces depression.
Also, according to positive psychology research, gratitude is consistently and strongly linked with greater happiness. Gratitude helps individuals relish good experiences, feel more positive emotions, improve their health, build strong relationships, and deal with adversity.
Gratitude Improves Physical Health
Grateful people experience fewer pains and aches and report feeling healthier than those who don’t.
A 2012 study showed that grateful people are more likely to take care of their health than ungrateful people. They tend to go for regular check-ups often exercise, which leads to good physical health.
Good physical health leads to better emotional wellbeing, mental health, and reduced rates of mental illness.
Activities involved in good physical health, such as exercise, help treat some mental conditions like anxiety and depression. It balances brain chemicals such as stress hormones, serotonin, and endorphins. These chemicals elevate mood and happiness while decreasing feelings of sadness, anxiety, and depression.
The Bottom Line
Practicing gratitude can have many mental benefits, including reducing stress, anxiety, pain, depression and building a sense of satisfaction with one’s life.
Being grateful for those fighting mental health conditions like anxiety, depression, or other mental health conditions is beneficial.