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November: The Science of Gratitude

November: The Science of Gratitude

The Month of November Carries Different Meanings for Different People

After Halloween, holiday commercials show a family enjoying a perfectly prepared meal; warm blankets; steaming cups of cocoa; and then tossing snow as everyone smiles. All those social media posts highlight what everyone is grateful for.

Although November can be stressful, gratitude might have some positive effects. Research shows that practicing gratitude can make you feel happier, have better mental health, and even reduce anxiety.

Thanksgiving at the Center of November: Gratitude

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) wants to encourage gratitude. These practices can be used during calm days or when you feel anxious about large gatherings, intimate conversations, or loneliness. November is an excellent reminder to be grateful, whether we feel overwhelmed or not.

Luana Marques,Ph.D. is the president of ADAA. She says that practicing gratitude is more than being grateful. It’s a way to cultivate peace within myself, a moment for reflection and a chance to see the good in everyone around me.” Science agrees with her. Gratitude can improve your mental health and help you deal with anxiety and depression. Gratitude is a way to live. Discovering its full potential and practicing it is possible.

What does science say about gratitude?

Research supports the connection between gratitude and mindfulness, and mental health. Psychologists Dr Robert A. Emmons and Dr Michael E. McCullough found that gratitude is linked to optimism and better quality of life. The Wharton School at Penn found that managers who thank their workers motivate workers to work harder. Past President of the ADAA, Karen Cassiday, PhD from ACT, confirms that gratitude has improved “mental and bodily health” in over “fifteen kilobytes of studies.” Gratitude can improve overall health.

These are five ways to practice gratitude for better mental health and to help you manage anxiety or depression.

  1. Keep a journal of gratitude. You can cultivate a habit of gratitude by consistently and thoughtfully writing down what you are grateful for. You have many options for gratitude journals, including DIY and ADAA Ally Pockitudes. These journals are small enough to keep you focused and able to focus on what is important to you.
  2. Make a gratitude list. Ask yourself, “What three things am I thankful for?” Before you go to sleep each night, write them down. This can be done every night or as often as you like. You might feel gratitude for a good meal or appreciate a kind gesture of kindness from someone you care about. According to scientific research published in peer-reviewed journals like the Journal of Research in Personality & Psychological Inquiry (JRPPI), gratitude can help us cultivate a positive outlook, bring attention to positive details, and foster self-acceptance. Parents may also ask their children to list three things they are grateful for each day or create a gratitude journal.
  3. Show gratitude by writing a note of appreciation to someone. Maybe you are thankful for the person who made your coffee at your local café. Maybe you feel grateful for the art teacher at your child’s school. Tell them how brightening they are to your day. You can write them a note or pull them aside to talk with them. Let them know how much you appreciate them. Research has shown that gratitude can have a ripple effect. The person who is grateful for help is more likely than the one who gave it. Are there people or organizations that have helped you overcome something like ADAA? On Giving Tuesday, consider honoring them by giving them a monetary gift.
  4. Practice gratitude-based meditations. Meditation can be a powerful tool to improve mental health and overall well-being. Some meditations focus on gratitude. These gratitude-based meditations can be used to cultivate gratitude. Even after just five minutes of practice, research from the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology shows that gratitude-based meditations can immediately improve mood. Many meditation apps offer guided exercises that focus on gratitude.
  5. Be grateful for the bigger picture. Dr Richa Bhatia, MD of the ADAA, believes that gratitude-based interventions can help relieve anxiety. During times of uncertainty like the pandemic, it is helpful to write down what you are grateful for. This allows you to see gratitude from a broader perspective and helps you focus on the essential things rather than getting distracted by the small things that don’t matter.

These Five Gratitude Methods can be started in November.

Although we may have a preconceived image of the perfect holiday season in our heads, the most important thing about November isn’t keeping up appearances. It’s practicing gratitude. It is vital to your mental, physical, and spiritual well-being. The ADAA offers a variety of resources and articles about appreciation and personal stories of gratitude.

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