How to practice gratitude for wellness

Maintaining wellness when you’re a carer or parent of a tricky kid is always step number 1. That doesn’t mean being selfish or self-indulgent. It means looking after yourself so that you can be present as a carer. It means keeping your energy and positivity tanks full so you have enough to give. Because being a full time carer takes lots of energy, is often thankless, and can drain your reserves quickly. Practicing gratitude is a simple and effective way to build your positive emotions as part of proactive wellness.

What is gratitude?

Gratitude is being appreciative of what you have. It is being thankful for things in your life that have occurred and make you happy.

Gratitude isn’t about always having rose coloured glasses and ignoring that there are bad things or challenges that happen. Gratitude is finding the hope and happiness within the tough times.

For example, you might be grateful that even though there are cost of living increases, that you have food on the table (and are actually richer than you think). You might be grateful for good health that week, or for the affirmation and smile a colleague gave you during the work day. You might be appreciative of nature’s beauty, while still acknowledging that climate change is a real and serious issue. Gratitude doesn’t mean accepting injustice, meanness or illegal activity, but it is about finding good.

Why is gratitude important for wellness?

Gratitude is one practice that can develop positive emotions. This can help maintain a positive mental health outlook. Noticing and acknowledging things you are grateful for can help you deal with challenges and difficult situations – such as the life of being a carer. Practicing gratitude impacts brain activity, improves prosocial behaviours and increases the bonding hormone oxytocin.

How to practice gratitude for wellness?

Quick mental thanks: Six 30-second reflections on gratitude over a day has been found to increase positive brain activity. That’s a total of a mere three minutes of daily practice to give benefits in positivity for wellness.

Letter writing: Gratitude letter writing has also been found to be effective, with positive results lasting for up to 3 months after the task. In this gratitude activity, you write a letter of thanks to someone, showing appreciation for what they do and how you are grateful for them in your life.

Appreciating daily life: Meditation has long had research backing as a practice that can impact brain activity and bring about positive emotions. Focusing meditation on gratitude through everyday practices such as drinking a cup of tea, eating dinner mindfully, or appreciating the natural environment is highly effective.

One grateful meditation focused on drinking tea comes from Thich Nhat Hanh:

Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves –
without rushing toward the future.
Live the actual moment.
Only this moment is life.

Gratitude Journal: Keeping a gratitude journal helps to build the habit of gratitude. For proactive mental well-being, a weekly gratitude reflection is an easy yet long lasting action towards your happiness. The Balance Planner includes a weekly gratitude prompt to build this positive habit all year long.

Photo Gratitude Activity: Another way to practice gratitude in 5 minutes is through a photo activity. Go through your phone photos and find 3 photos of things that you are grateful for. Feel your smile and positive emotions as you reflect on what you appreciate and are thankful for. Share with a friend, or share with the people in your photos (if you’re grateful for others) to get an instant positive emotion boost.

Where to get support for wellness?

You’re not alone in being a carer, and for when daily gratitude isn’t cutting it, reach out for more support. Wellness not only includes positive mental health, but having external supports and counseling too.

We also have our 21 days of Balance supporting emails starting again May 31. Sign up for daily reminders to find your balance and wellness over the next 21 days.

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