Life is full of ups and downs while the upbeat moments seem to pass in an instance, times when you are down, and lowly seem to last forever.
Feeling low all the time has been linked to depression, anxiety, and other severe mental disorders. At the same time, it’s challenging to get anything done when you are depressed. Depression and anxiety often lead to the person not being productive at work, has a hard time making genuine connections, and even has trouble sleeping.
Then, how can you get rid of depression if you have already started to notice signs of depression? Better yet, is there a way to keep yourself or someone you know from getting depressed straight from the onset?
Today, however, let’s look at one of the easiest, yet overlooked ways to live a healthy life away from things that depress you.
Gratitude can be used to combat stress and lead a life free of anxiety and depression.
Related reading: 6 Helpful Tips on How to Relax Your Mind and Body from Anxiety – Opens in new tab
What is gratitude?
Simply put, to be gracious, or to show gratitude is to have the quality of being thankful. This extends to readily showing appreciation for other people’s acts –big or small, and to replicate these acts with kindness.
Yes, being thankful and showing appreciation can have a tremendous effect on your mental well-being. The question, then, is how exactly do you show gratitude? How do you become a gracious person?
Here are a few ways to help you cultivate a gracious attitude
1. Keeping a record journal
When stressful thoughts start piling up, it is almost impossible to remember anything good that has happened to you. One of the most significant issues about stress is it gives you tunnel vision, where you can only focus on the problem of issue stressing you.
Research has been done to try and understand the effect of gratitude in stressful times. For instance, Sonja Lyubomirsky, a psychologist from the University of California, suggests that keeping a gratitude journal, where you record at least once a week can help increase your overall energy.
Furthermore, Sonja talks of how the gratitude journal can help relieve pain and fatigue. (Further reading: Positive Effects of Gratitude on the Brain and Body)
More studies have been done, proving the numerous benefits of keeping a gratitude journal.
Journaling acts of gratitude doesn’t have to be a complicated affair. In fact, if you take a minute to notice all of life’s moments you’re grateful for, you’ll likely be in awe. These acts of gratitude don’t have to be being the valedictorian or getting a seven-figure salary job.
You can be grateful for even the smallest acts in your day. Having a hot meal is something to be thankful for. So is being healthy, having a roof over your head, having a hot shower. Once you start recording these small –and big deeds, you’ll notice your view on life-changing.
Furthermore, when life is kicking you down, you can always recall these moments, which, as mentioned earlier, will help raise your energy.
2. Using the right words
Words have power over your life. If you take a look at some of the greatest leaders in the world, they got the positions of because of learning how to use the right words –including a multiple of other factors.
For example, if you look at the last two presidents of the United States, you’ll notice they both had powerful slogans that appealed to the minds and hearts of citizens. Yes We Can and Make America Great Again are more than just words that someone decided on the spot, they were carefully calibrated and measured words.
Perhaps the best illustration of this is Mark Robert and Dr. Andrew Newberg’s book; Words Can Change Your Brain. The authors write, “Just one word has the power to illustrate the expression of the genetic factor that regulates physical and emotional stress.”
When you use positive words such as please, peace, thank you, and love they can lead to the alteration of your genes and strengthen areas in the frontal lobes, further promoting the brain’s cognitive functioning.
The words you use slowly form at the back of your mind, and you’ll notice you have several go-to words in most scenarios. If these words are negative, it’s easy to have a negative outlook on life. The same can be said about positive words.
Changing the words you use is not an overnight venture. It is going to take time and practice. Most importantly, it is going to take you to be conscious of the words you use and try to make them positive, to increase your chances of fighting stress and anxiety.
Related reading: Positive Effects of Gratitude on the Brain and Body – Opens in new tab.
3. Hanging around the right crowd
The truth is, peer pressure has primarily been addressed as something only teenagers deal with. While the teens do deal with their fair share of peer pressure, it would be wrong to say adults don’t suffer from the same. There have been several studies that seek to address how peer pressure can be associated with mental health issues.
At the same time, it is critical to remember the saying, “you are the sum total of your friends.” If you hang around people who are grumpy and always look at the negative side of things, you will, slowly, also start to have this view on life. This is why you will always note people move in groups where they can reason and agree together.
Research has proven that if you stay near happy people, you too will start experiences bouts of happiness. These studies have been carried out on individuals as well as married couples, and the results are still the same.
To go a step further, you will also notice if you surround yourself with people who say words like please and thank you, you too will begin to use these words.
This calls for you to evaluate those you have surrounded yourself with, and what they are feeding you. Are they feeding you negativity, then you need to change your circle. At the same time, you also need to recognize those people who look up to you and what you are feeding them.
This may call for you to evaluate your outlook of life and situations and see how you can change that to positively influence those around you.
Related reading: Energy Vampires, What is and How to spot them. & Symptoms of Energy Attack and How to Protect Yourself – Opens in new tab
4. Having the right perspective
Is the glass half-full or half-empty? This is a debate that has gone on for ages. No side is the apparent winner, as the objective is for you to evaluate your outlook in situations.
If you say the glass is half empty, you’ll immediately be labeled as a pessimist, a negative person. This, however, doesn’t mean you’re more susceptible to stress and depression. It merely means you need more evidence before you believe in something or before jumping on board. There are times when pessimism pays off. Being a little more cautious never hurt anybody.
If you view the glass as half full, you are termed an optimist. People then think you are a positive thinker. This is not always the case, while being an optimist does mean you see the brighter side of things; it may also mean you’re too eager to see the positive, that you overlook reality.
From this, it seems not to matter whether the glass is half empty or half full, but to try and see the best in every situation, while still exercising caution. In regards to gratitude, it does seem positivity is the way to go. If you’re uncertain about a situation, there’s no need to be cynical about it.
For instance, when you wake up in the morning, you should be positive and trust the day is going to be a good one. Trying back to the previous point, don’t just think it is going to be a good day, utter the words. This is going to slowly help you change your focus and perspective in life.
Additionally, having a negative perspective in life –including talking negative things about yourself, has been linked to depression and other mental illnesses.
On the flip side, there seem to be several benefits of having a positive perspective, which include;
- Lowered depression rates
- Higher resistance to the common cold
- Physical and psychological well-being
- Better coping skills in times of hardship and stress
- An increased lifespan
- Reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases
At the end of the day, it does seem that showing gratitude will help you combat stress, anxiety, and depression. At the same time, the tips shared above all have one thing in common; they take some of the focus away from you and shed it to those around you.
If you follow through these tips, you’ll not only learn how to be gracious, you’ll also positively influence people, and possibly make some great friends along the way.
If you notice you are suffering from stress, depression, anxiety, or any form of mental distress, it is advised while you follow the above tips, you should also see a professional as soon as possible.
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