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5 ways to practice gratitude

Every year on 21st September, people around the globe celebrate World Gratitude Day. It is the perfect opportunity for each of us to pause, reflect and think about what we are grateful for in life. Gratitude allows us to be mindful about what we are blessed with and to see the best qualities in one another. The practice of gratitude helps us become more positive, mindful and promotes good emotional health. Research has shown that the practice of gratitude helps improve physical and mental health.

More than ever, the COVID-19 pandemic has reminded us that there are good and bad things for us to reflect on. It also showed us that things we take for granted such as eating out, going to the movies with our family or friends and attending a footy game suddenly became a privilege.

Many people are recognising that COVID-19 has taught us to have more gratitude. So, how do you show gratitude every day and make it a habit? Here are some ideas you can try to show gratitude to your loved ones, those people in your community and to yourself.

Say thanks

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A simple thank you can make someone’s day. Think about the last time you said ‘thank you’ to someone that helped you. Think about a time when you said it wholeheartedly, how was the person’s reaction? Visualise it in your mind. Does it make you smile?

Not only can saying thank you and showing gratitude make the receiver happy, it is also proven to offer many health benefits to the giver. It helps strengthen your relationship, reduce dissatisfaction, cultivate positivity and increase self-esteem.

Connect to nature

So often we are too busy to think about how we take care of this planet. You can show gratitude today by simply doing some gardening or taking a long bush walk. Listen to the sounds of the birds singing, the trees talking and enjoy the colours of nature along the way.

There is growing evidence that connecting to nature results in many positive health benefits. Studies have shown that connecting to nature improves mental, physical and psychological health. Specifically, staying close to nature enhances physical conditions such as hypertension, helps with chronic pain and cardiac illness. Nature also helps us feel less stressed, enhancing social well-being and reducing any anxiety.

Meditate

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There are endless benefits of meditation, both physically and mentally. Take some time today to switch off, sit down and meditate. Meditation offers many positive effects to the body and mind. This includes improved emotional health, reduced anxiety and stress and enhanced concentration. What’s significant about meditation is that it can change the brain. Research has shown that meditation can reverse the ageing brain and helps with learning and memory. Meditation is free and something you can do anytime, anywhere and without any equipment. If you want to learn meditation, check out these free meditation courses for beginners.

Mindful breathing

If you find sitting still and meditating a challenge, try mindful breathing. Focus on your breathing to make yourself feel more grounded. Start counting your breaths in and out. Pay attention to how you feel after a few rounds. Mindful breathing helps slow down your heart rate and calm the mind. Slow breathing helps activate our para-sympathetic nervous system towards a more restful state, resulting in lower heart rate and lower heart pressure.

Random Acts of Kindness

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Think of a random act of kindness. This could be doing something unexpected for a loved one or even a stranger. COVID-19 saw many children writing inspirational message in chalk on the footpaths outside their house, which brighten passer-by’s days.

Do you have excess produce in your garden to share? Have you finished with a good book that you think others would like to read? Not only will you make your own day – you will spread gratitude to those around you.

The practice of gratitude does not only bring joy to the receivers, it also helps you live a happier and more fulfilling life. Start a gratitude journey today. Start small if you find it challenging. For example, next time you speak with someone, listen with intention and pay attention to the details instead of just waiting for your chance to speak. Be a listener and actively listen. Gratitude practice may feel a bit challenging at first, but when you make it a habit, your mental state grows stronger with the use of this practice and helps cultivate self-awareness as well as happiness.