2020 has been a tough year, and no population or group of people has gone untouched. Perhaps one of the most affected groups is the elderly population, as they are among the most at-risk so they have strict regulations in place to stay safe. They may not have seen family or friends in months. It may be hard to feel grateful right now, but embracing gratitude can improve well-being and enhance quality of life.
Remember the Little Things
People typically embrace gratitude during this time of year, what with all the holidays and family gatherings happening. Due to the pandemic, and with family gatherings highly discouraged, it can be hard to feel grateful right now. However, as they say, there is always something to be grateful for—even in the midst of illness, aging, or other health concerns. Think about the little things in life. It can be something as small as that first sip of coffee in the morning or having the ability to watch your favorite program on television at night.
Journaling is a great way to practice gratitude. Every day, take some time to write down a few things that you are most grateful for. It really allows you to reflect on the moments in life that make you smile, but that you may be taking for granted. You should also make time to review those journal entries regularly. This is a particularly great practice when you are feeling low and need a mood boost. You could even practice a 7-day gratitude challenge, where you journal before bed every night. Take stock of how different you feel at the end of the practice.Write a Letter
Writing gratitude letters to loved ones—and even yourself—is a great way to embrace gratitude. Think about all the things you are grateful for about someone in your life, whether it be someone who helps you clean your house each week, your partner, your daughter, or a friend. Write them all down, and don’t filter yourself—grammar doesn’t matter here. Be specific, and write like you are talking directly to them. Once you complete the letter, arrange a video chat with them so you can read it to them.
When was the last time you stopped to listen to the birds? Hone in on your senses. You’ll begin to notice a lot of miraculous things you didn’t before. It will cause you to look at things in a different way, and in turn, appreciate them much more than you maybe did before.
Meditating is a great addition to your gratitude practice. Taking the time to breathe slowly and mindfully helps relax you and lower your blood pressure. This is also a great time to repeat a thankful mantra.
The benefits of practice gratitude are countless. Individuals can improve their mental and physical health, improve their sleeping, and boost their self-esteem. Specific studies have noted the improvement in well-being when older adults practice gratitude. When we learn to appreciate the little things and feel grateful, we can also improve our relationships. Not only that, but because our mental health is improved, we tend to be more resilient when we are grateful.
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