There’s a strong chance that you will have heard a parent or guardian tell you to ‘count your blessings’ at some point when you were growing up. Most often when you wanted something you couldn’t have, or when one of life’s little challenges hadn’t gone your way. It’s a very adult-in-charge thing to say.
Chances are equally high that you scowled at advice that can seem a little on the trite side. The thing is though, they were right. Focusing on the good stuff, your blessings and being grateful, can have actual benefits to your mental health.
Taking the time to put yourself in a positive mindset even just once a day has been shown by studies to increase happiness by 10%, while also reducing depressive symptoms by up to 35%.
If you’re not sure where to start, don’t worry – at ART, we’ve got your back. Why not try expressing gratitude through regular journaling? It’s recently been discovered that journaling can increase optimism by between 5% and 15%, enhance overall happiness by 10%, and even improve sleep quality by around 25%.
As we know, sleep quality can have a sizeable impact on how we live and work through the rest of the day, week, month, and year. Poor sleep can all too often lead to a dip in mental health too, so any benefits from gratitude and journaling are worth investigating, and that’s just what has been happening at the University of Manchester.
By studying 401 adults across a fifty year age gap (between 18 and 68 years old, with 40% having clinically impaired sleep or sleeping disorders), researchers were able to examine the correlation between gratitude, thoughts before sleep, and the impact these have on the sleep itself.
A questionnaire presented to participants revealed that taking time for gratitude before bed helped to drive negative thoughts away, replacing them with positivity and reflections that lead to a more peaceful and deeper sleep.
Other studies have had similar results, with women who keep a gratitude diary showing elevated optimism and decreased blood pressure, while athletes receiving external gratitude and gratification from their coaches felt the benefit of higher self-esteem.
The science doesn’t lie – taking time to be grateful, monitor your wellbeing and remain positive really can make yourself and others feel better. It doesn’t have to be through journaling, even telling friends, family, and colleagues why you’re grateful to them more often can do the trick.
It’s important that we try to fully experience and process all of our emotions, the good and the bad, but by giving the positive more space over the negative, by being grateful and counting our blessings, we can improve our physical and mental health. That sounds like something to be grateful for to us.