With the Thanksgiving Holiday occurring tomorrow, this PLTC Blob post will share some thoughts on gratitude. Practicing gratitude is a tool that not only is helpful for our therapy clients (of all ages and in all settings) but is also a tool that can improve our own wellbeing, resiliency, and positive affect.
Gratitude is an emotion expressing appreciation for what one has. Practicing gratitude is an active, conscious, activity of recognizing the good things in one’s life that are independent of monetary worth (Psychology Today: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/gratitude).
Research has consistently shown the benefits of practicing gratitude, including boosting happiness, fostering both physical and psychological health, and leading to physical and biological changes in our brain chemistry. “In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships (Harvard Health: https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/giving-thanks-can-make-you-happier).” Research studies also show that practicing gratitude reduces the use of words expressing negative emotions and shifts inner attention away from negative emotions and ruminating over them (Psychology Today).
Practicing gratitude is something we, as clinical providers, can do ourselves to support enhanced self-care and increase our own well-being. Practicing gratitude can also be utilized as a clinical intervention with our long-term care clients to help them cultivate more positive coping mechanisms and adjustment to their age-related losses and decline.
Consider these suggestions below to foster gratitude (in ourselves and our clients):
- Keep a “gratitude” journal.
- Write down (or even say or simply actively think about) “three good things” daily (these can be small moments).
- Write thank you notes to others.
- Engage in “mental subtraction,” which entails imagining what your life would be like if some positive events had not occurred.
Below, please find a more in-depth description on gratitude and how it pertains to the practice of psychology services.
Articles and Resources on Gratitude: