The Benefits of Practicing Gratitude in these Challenging COVID-19 Times

Practicing gratitude in lockdown – such stunning colours in nature.

“Gratitude is one of the most powerful human emotions. Once expressed, it changes attitude, brightens outlook, and broadens our perspective.” – Germany Kent

Practicing gratitude can really have a truly transformational impact on your life. After keeping a gratitude journal for the past few years, I can firmly say that it really can have quite profound effects on your day to day life. I personally write down two things I am grateful for every morning in a journal and I feel that it really helps get me in a mindset that gets me ready for the day. And in these challenging COVID-19 times, it is even more important to practice being grateful for what we DO have rather than focusing on what we don’t have at the moment.

So to help you realise how beneficial practicing gratitude could be in your life, I have pulled together a list of some of the benefits that we can experience if we practice gratitude and especially in these COVID-19 times as well as some evidence to illustrate the effectiveness of this wellbeing technique:

+ Gratitude can make us happier – Maintaining a gratitude journal for 5 minutes a day can enhance our long term happiness by over 10% (Emmons & McCullough, 2003, Seligman, Steen, Park & Peterson 2005). Those who pay attention to what is good in their life instead of what is bad are more likely to feel positively about their life. I have to say with all of the negative news and scary times with this pandemic, it really can make a difference to focus on what is good in your life.

+ Practicing gratitude can increase your self esteem and make you feel better about your circumstances which will allow you to feel better about yourself. We can look at participants who completed a four week gratitude contemplation program reported greater life satisfaction and self esteem than the control group participants (Rash, Matsuba and Prkachin 2011). Most of us have been dramatically effected throughout this pandemic, whether that is losing a job and our income or being furloughed so it is great to hear that a simple practice like journalling can help us feel better about ourselves.

+ Gratitude can improve your overall physical health – A study completed by Hill, Allemand and Roberts in 2013 showed that the more grateful a person is the more likely they will enjoy better physical as well as psychological health. Grateful people are healthy people and in a time like this, maintaining our physical health is critical.

+ Gratitude can help reduce depression symptoms – A study on gratitude by Seligman et al in 2005 showed that participants experienced a 35% reduction in depressive symptoms when they practiced gratitude journaling. In these challenging times, where our circumstances could be dramatically effected, leading us potentially to feel depression symptoms – it is great to know that something like gratitude journaling could really support your mental wellbeing.

+ Gratitude journaling can make us more optimistic – Apparently a study by Amin in 2014 showed that regular gratitude journaling can result in a 5% to 15% increase in levels of optimism, showing thinking positively could really have an impact in how we react and feel about this current pandemic and a simple practice could really improve our mindset.

I hope this blog has helped you appreciate the benefits of this practice. Perhaps while you might have more time available, this could be a good time to commence a gratitude practice as you really need a 28 day period to bed in a new habit so why not start gratitude journaling today and see for yourself how this easy practice could really make a big difference to your overall health and wellbeing. Maybe a positive new habit could help lessen the impact of this lockdown challenge we are all experiencing.

Happy Journalling!

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