November is all about gratitude, something we can definitely get on board with! But when I attempted to deepen my gratitude practice, I realized something...I have no clue where to start. I didn't understand what I was supposed to be doing or what I could even get out of it. I had heard enough buzz about it and just knew I wanted to give it a shot.
If you're looking for an easy way to incorporate a daily mental health break, I highly recommend starting a gratitude practice. And if you're like me and not sure where to begin, our mama friend, Rachel, is here to walk us through her practice that works wonders for her mental well-being.
Grounding in Gratitude: A Beginner's Guide to Starting A Gratitude Practice
by: Rachel Faino
In my first-hand experience I have found gratitude to be a key in feeling happier, more present and grounded. Gratitude to me isn’t about feeling happy 24/7 or denying the negative, it’s about taking time each day to acknowledge and focus on what is good in life at the present moment. Showing appreciation for those inherently good things in your life that often go unnoticed, those positive things that can coincide with the bad times.
Years ago, I started my morning gratitude routine with the goal to do it for 21 days straight. I had read somewhere that it takes 21 days to make or break a habit and retrain your mindset.
Starting A Gratitude Practice
In the morning, I list out mentally or write in a journal 3-5 things I’m grateful for. I find it helpful to write it down if I have a few extra minutes, this way I retain it more and can focus my energy more on the task. Gratitude lists don’t have to be lengthy or time consuming, they can be as simple as being thankful for being able to wake up that day and be alive, be able to breathe, utilize your body and mind.
Some days I take it a step deeper and list out very specific things, a stranger smiling at me or holding the door open, a gesture of kindness I was able to give to someone, something I love about myself that took me years to love. The more I did this practice as part of my morning routine, the more easily I noticed things throughout my day to be grateful for that normally would’ve gone unnoticed. It shifted my mindset to one of abundance, I view my life as more rich due to actively expressing gratitude for it.
I have kept this practice going way beyond the 21 days I originally set, since I saw how much it was benefitting my relationship with myself and others. I found the more days I woke up and took a moment to be and feel thankful in my life, the more I appreciated the people in my life and my life overall, so much deeper.
Grab your girlfriends and make it a group practice!
Another way I was able to incorporate this gratitude exercise in my daily routine, beside journaling or doing it privately in my head, was extending it out to people in my community via a group email. This is a fun, informal way to be held accountable, hold non-judgmental space, and inspire each other. For 21 days straight I had people share in a group email 3 things they were grateful for. We all had till the end of the day to respond and it could be as personal or impersonal as you wanted.
Doing a daily gratitude list as a group instead of privately on my own had the same result of increasing my mental well-being and happiness, but a difference I noticed was how inspired I was by seeing what others were thankful for. The energy would carry with me throughout the day as I continued to see positivity and vulnerability being spread throughout our email group.
At first I was hesitant to share any personal gratitudes in a group setting, but as others got more comfortable sharing so did I, and I felt seen and heard more and more each day we did this. Throughout each day I would feel uplifted to read so many things listed out by others to be grateful for, some made me happy for others, some made relate, some made me acknowledge where I was lacking and created the motivation to work towards attaining that, and some simply reminded me of things I had been overlooking in my own life to be thankful for too.
There it is, a couple ways I have found gratitude to work well in my life and for my mental well-being. If privately works best for you, I encourage you to get a journal (make it fun and find one that expresses your taste), and take a few moments each day to jot down at least 3-5 things you feel are going well in your life or you’re thankful to be blessed with. Or if you want to try branching out and having fun with a group of people you feel safe and seen with, gather a few friends/acquaintances and get a group email going to hold each other accountable and inspire each other to spread the positivity.