During the holidays, gratitude and feeling thankful are regular topics of conversation. Many people talk about all the people and things they feel grateful for.
Sometimes it can be hard to feel thankful when you’re living with pain or depression. Practicing gratitude during the holidays is great, but practicing in your day-to-day life is important, too. Studies have shown that positive interactions that involve gratitude decrease levels of depression and increase happiness.
While it may seem challenging to feel grateful when you’re in pain or depressed, there are many benefits to practicing gratitude to fight pain.
How Does Practicing Gratitude to Fight Pain Work?
Your mind can only handle one thought at a time, so giving it a positive one to focus on, even when that seems hard, helps your mind to think positively. Think about it this way. If you are told to not think about apples, what are you thinking about? Apples. Or, if you’re told to not forget to do something, what are you thinking about? Forgetting to do that something.
Giving your brain a positive thought to focus on helps you stay and feel more positive. Even if you aren’t feeling very grateful, find one thing that you feel happy about and think about it.
Instead of thinking about how sad you feel or how much you hurt, think about something positive that makes you feel happy. Remember, your brain can only handle one thought at a time, so make it positive.
Ideas of Positive Thoughts:
- I am safe.
- I am loved.
- I love my family.
- I love my friends.
How Does It Help?
Gratitude may be overlooked at times, but it can be a powerful tool. There are many benefits of practicing gratitude to fight pain, and some of them may surprise you.
- Gratitude may improve self-esteem. Studies have shown that gratitude reduces social comparisons. Basically, when you practice gratitude you’re less likely to feel jealous of other people’s accomplishments, and you’ll be able to clearly see your own accomplishments. This helps to improve self-esteem, which in turn, helps improve your level of gratitude.
- Feeling grateful helps people sleep better. For people living with pain or depression, sleep can be difficult to get. However, people who spent about 15 minutes writing in a journal about things they are grateful for slept better and longer.
- Gratitude can enhance empathy and reduce aggression. According to a study, people who practice gratitude are more likely to act with empathy, even when others behave less kindly. In addition, people who ranked higher in gratitude in the study were less likely to act out in aggression even when given negative feedback. Practicing gratitude enhances kindness.
- Gratitude may improve psychological health. When you practice gratitude, you’re able to reduce the number of toxic emotions you feel. Even though these negative emotions will still pop up, you’ll be able to deal with them better because of the link between gratitude and well-being.
- Physical health may improve with gratitude. Studies show that people who are grateful experience fewer pains and report a sense of well-being more than those who don’t practice gratitude. Also, grateful people take better care of themselves and seek help when they need it.
Start Practicing Gratitude to Fight Pain Today
Practicing gratitude to fight pain is good for anyone, whether you’re new to it or a seasoned practitioner. As with anything, give yourself time to practice. Soon, you may start to notice a positive change.