Why should we express gratitude?
According to a Harvard Medical School article, research on the effects of expressing gratitude on wellbeing has revealed the following:
- Writing down things that make you feel grateful can lead to feeling more optimistic about your life.
- Keeping a gratitude journal can even make you more physically active and reduce visits to the doctor.
- Writing and delivering a letter thanking someone close to you can boost your happiness significantly for up to a month.
Unfortunately, a massive caveat of these studies is that no definitive causal relationship can be established between gratitude and wellbeing.
Nevertheless, numerous studies indicate that the effects of experiencing and expressing gratitude are positive.
The importance of gratitude during the COVID-19 crisis
Even though the coronavirus crisis has brought and is bringing with it so many negative consequences. Suddenly, everything that used to be normal, like seeing loved ones on a regular basis and going to the gym, is not so normal anymore.
It’s easy to then start thinking in negative patterns and doomsday scenarios. However, why don’t we look at one of the opportunities this crisis represents? It pushes to stop taking things for granted. Let’s start being grateful for the things we do have.
Here are 7 things to be grateful for, especially in these challenging coronavirus times. They’re here to inspire you for the gratitude challenge, but also to help you express gratitude more often in your day-to-day.
1. Loved ones — friends, family, partner
Do you know the phrase “absence makes the heart grow fonder”? I’ve found that to be true now more than ever. We’re all missing the physical presence of our loved ones. However, now’s the time to be grateful that they ARE in your life.
Express your gratitude during a video call, send them a little gift, or a handwritten letter thanking them for caring, for supporting you, and for just being who they are.
Every evening, my partner and I tell each other 1 thing we’re grateful for in our relationship. The same Harvard research has shown that that can increase the positive feelings we have towards the other person, and even increase the likelihood of expressing concerns in our relationship. In other words, this gratitude exercise can strengthen our bond and augment trust.
2. Living environment
Boy oh boy, have I come to appreciate my living space. I feel lucky on so many levels. Firstly, I’m grateful for the beautiful apartment I’m living in with my partner. It’s not the biggest, newest, or fanciest apartment, but it’s cozy, warm, and ours.
3. Physical & mental health
I’m really happy to be physically and mentally healthy right now. Yes, I have a bit of a backache and shoulder pain from not sitting on an ergonomic desk chair while I’m working. But in general, I’m all good when it comes to health.
What a thing to be grateful for! To be able to see all the beauty in this world, hear my favorite tunes, walk my dog, play the ukulele…
I try to take a moment to appreciate my physical and mental health during my daily yoga practice.
Many of us have more time on our hands now due to not having to commute to work. I’m grateful for the extra time because it means that I get to have nice, long breakfasts with my partner in the morning, I don’t have to rush my cooking, and I can take more breaks.
5. The internet
The internet: birthplace of FOMO, trolls, and the Tide Pod challenge. Lots of bad things, but also, lots of great things! Due to the coronavirus crisis, a wealth of online courses has been made free. I’m super grateful for the opportunity to learn and improve my skills.
And for the amount of cute dog videos on YouTube.
That brings us to the next, more light-hearted thing to be grateful for. Our furry friends! The reported mental health benefits of pets are endless. Here are some of them:
- Spending time with your pet can increase your levels of happiness hormones like serotonin and dopamine.
- Pet owners display lower blood pressure in stressful situations than people who don’t own pets.
- People with pets are less likely to be depressed than those without.
Cherish the extra time you get to spend with them and increase your own wellbeing and theirs.
7. Freedom of movement
I know it feels a little bit ironic to be grateful for freedom of movement right now when travel is limited. But don’t you appreciate the times that you do get to go outside way more nowadays? I know I do. When I walk my dog, I feel more grateful for the fresh air, my feet on the ground, and the boundless, open sky above me, than I ever did before.