Heal Your Mind with Gratitude

​“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more.
If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” -Oprah Winfrey

Thankful (Adjective); to feel or express gratitude, appreciate.
As I stood in front my kitchen counter staring at two bags of Cranberries and a pound of sugar wondering why on earth I didn’t disobey my cousin’s request for homemade Cranberry sauce, I’m quickly reminded it is that time of year again when we’re all supposed to take another look at everything around us, count our blessings, and be thankful. I mean don’t get me wrong, I so wanted to buy the good old canned Ocean Spray Jellied Cranberry Sauce, but at least I could be grateful I didn’t have to be the one in charge of making the turkey.
While it’s great to be thankful for Thanksgiving, studies show that expressing gratitude can have an immense positive affect on your mental health, and we should try to remember to do it more often than once a year. Here are some ways we can help ourselves out with this one simple act called gratitude.
Detach from negative emotions. 
 In this day and age, it is extremely easy to get wrapped up in everything that is going wrong and completely forget about all the things that are going right. There is no debating that if you are constantly focused on all the negative in your life that you will live a life consumed by negative emotions. Stress, depression, and anxiety only heighten if you allow yourself to wallow and be consumed by these emotions. It is when we take a step back to think about all the things we have to be thankful for that we allow ourselves to genuinely appreciate our surroundings.
Gratitude promotes healthy relationships. 
Expressing gratitude for others is great way to maintain the feeling of appreciation in a relationship. Whether it is a new developing relationship, or an ongoing relationship acknowledging one another’s contributions is beyond important. The chances are if you express appreciation for your loved ones, the feeling will also be returned. No one chooses over and over again to surround themselves with people who make them feel under-appreciated, and you certainly shouldn’t either.
Self-esteem is increased with gratitude.Insecurities often stem from an under appreciation for who we are and a longing to be who we are not. While I sit back and enjoy a nice glass of wine tomorrow I’ll choose to not think about the poor cook I am, and instead pat myself on the back for actually putting forth the effort to make the homemade cranberry sauce. Comparing yourself to others, what they have, and what you don’t have, is one of the most harmful practices you can participate in. Like our favorite childhood author Dr. Suess tells us “Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you.” Comparing yourself to someone else will always be harmful because you will always be you, and they will always be them. Sure, we’re all made up of the same blood, muscle, and bones but as we all know the human body is a lot more complex than that. If we can learn to be thankful for the aspects of ourselves that we bring to the table our self-esteem is sure to go up.
Appreciation improves physical health.

 It is common knowledge that when we love something we tend to take as much care of it as possible in hopes that it will stick around and flourish. This logic is also implemented with gratitude and our physical health. When we learn to appreciate our bodies and our health, we learn to take better care of ourselves. If going to regular check-ups, eating right, and exercise is something we realize makes us feel good, were going to keep up these practices so the feeling stays the same. Studies also show that the mood of appreciation can actually decrease your stress hormones, therefore decreasing inflammation in your body and improving your physical health.
Happy people sleep better.

I’m sure most of us have heard the expression “don’t go to sleep angry” and if you haven’t this is SO important. Going to bed with your mind overcrowded with stress and anxiety is a great way to make sure you don’t get a good night’s sleep. How is your mind supposed to rest if it won’t stop worrying? The best way to avoid this problem and make sure you get all your beauty sleep is thinking of all the good things happening around you. Think about the goals you finally reached at work today, instead of what you have left to accomplish tomorrow. A goodnight’s rest makes us ready to handle the next day and whatever hurdles we have to go through without an emotional meltdown.
In conclusion as we celebrate Thanksgiving tomorrow with family and friends try to keep up with the mood and thought of gratitude, even as we embark on the holiday season of giving. Take from today that giving especially appreciation can be not only rewarding but beyond beneficial for our own mental state.

Written by: Alexandra Haggerty