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May is Mental Health Awareness month. Mental Health Awareness is incredibly near and dear to my heart because I have been there - I have struggled with mental health issues since high school and have worked hard to manage them in my daily life. Gratitude is a powerful tool that can help with mental health struggles and while it is not a cure-all, you can leverage it to change your mindset, mood, and emotions.

Gratitude is an emotion that can positively affect our mental health. It is the act of appreciating and recognizing the good things in our lives and expressing gratitude can have significant benefits for our mental well being. 

Here are 7 ways gratitude can help mental health:

  1. Gratitude can reduce stress and anxiety. 

Gratitude is a powerful tool in reducing stress and anxiety. When you focus on the positive aspects of your life, you tend to worry less about the negative things that are going on around you. Positive psychology research has found that people who practice gratitude are less likely to experience stress and anxiety than those who don't. People who practice gratitude have a more positive outlook on situations which means they can better manage the stresses they face.

  1. Gratitude can increase happiness and life satisfaction.

Gratitude can also increase happiness and life satisfaction. When we focus on the good things in our lives, we tend to feel more positive emotions such as joy and contentment. People individuals who practice gratitude regularly report higher levels of happiness and life satisfaction.

  1. Gratitude can improve relationships

Gratitude strengthens our relationships with others. When we express gratitude towards others, it helps us deepen our connection and bond with them. People who feel gratitude towards someone tend to be more empathetic, compassionate, and kind towards them, which can help to foster healthy relationships. If you have a romantic partner, studies have also found that people who regularly express gratitude towards their partners tend to report higher levels of relationship satisfaction.

  1. Gratitude boosts resilience

Gratitude makes us more resilient. When we experience challenges or setbacks, it can feel like a burden to be upbeat and positive sometimes. Luckily, practicing gratitude can help us to reframe our experiences in a more positive light. Grateful individuals tend to be more resilient in the face of adversity, and are better able to cope with challenging situations.

  1. Gratitude helps us sleep better

Gratitude can also improve sleep quality. When we focus on the positive aspects of our lives before bed, we tend to have more positive thoughts and emotions as we release the stress and negativity, which can us get deeper, better sleep. Studies have found that people who practice gratitude before bed tend to fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly than those who do not. If you are struggling to fall asleep at night, give gratitude journaling a try! 

  1. Gratitude can promote self-care habits

Gratitude can also help practice more self-care. When we appreciate the good things in our lives, we tend to value our lives more - and ourselves more. We are more motivated to take care of ourselves, not just physically but mentally too. Self care activities can include exercise, healthy eating, sunset walks, long baths, and seeking professional help if needed.

  1. Gratitude can reduce symptoms of depression

A beautiful benefit to gratitude is that it can help combat symptoms of depression. When we focus on the positive aspects of our lives, we tend to feel more hopeful and optimistic. Studies have found that people who practice gratitude regularly tend to experience fewer symptoms of depression than those who do not. 

It is so important to continue talking about mental health and removing the stigma around it. If you struggle with mental health issues, the most important thing is that you know you are not alone in this - even if it feels like it. You have a network of family, friends, teachers, mentors, or mental health professionals that are willing and ready to help you.

Gratitude has significant benefits for our mental health if you are looking to start a practice on your own today.  There are many ways to practice gratitude, including keeping a gratitude journal, expressing gratitude towards others, and continuing to focus on the positive aspects of your life. Mental health is truly a journey and always remember to let yourself feel all of your feelings. It is okay to have hard days or bad days - that is normal! The important thing is that you pick yourself up and keep trying. Better days are always ahead and there is always something to be grateful for.

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