Feeling rundown? Struggling with stress, anxiety or simple everyday tasks? The key to happiness might be gratitude. Learning to express your appreciation for the small moments in your life and the people around you can improve your wellbeing and mental health and strengthen your relationships with others.
Join ManageMinds as we explore how you can start practising gratitude with the help of some handy exercises and worksheets!
What is gratitude?
Oxford Languages defines gratitude as “The quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.”
Practising gratitude is all about recognising the positive things in your life—no matter how big or small—that make you feel good. This could include anything from being grateful for a gift from a friend to being thankful that your doctor's appointment went well.
The beauty of it is that no matter how stressful or bleak our lives can get, there is always something positive to focus on.
What are the benefits of practising gratitude?
Practising gratitude regularly can work wonders for your mental health and wellbeing.
- It makes you happier. Focusing on what makes you happy can improve your mood and, over time, help you cultivate a far more optimistic outlook.
- It makes you more resilient. Teaching yourself to find the silver lining in even the most challenging situations can increase your ability to cope with stressful situations—reminding you that while you might experience setbacks, there are also things to appreciate.
- It can increase your self-esteem. Practising gratitude can push you to recognise your own strengths and accomplishments, which can lead to a boost in self-esteem and confidence.
- It strengthens your relationships. Acknowledging the impact that the people around you have on your life and expressing your appreciation towards them can help you to build deeper connections.
Gratitude exercises and worksheets
It might seem cheesy, but telling yourself what you're grateful for every day can go a long way to improving your wellbeing and setting you up for success. It works the same way as positive affirmations, except instead of saying things like "I can do this," and "I'm a strong and capable person," you're focusing on what you're thankful for.
Not sure where to start? Try out some of these:
- "I'm grateful for this good cup of coffee this morning."
- "I'm glad I work with such funny people."
- "I'm happy I can come home to my partner."
- "The sunny weather really made my day."
If you want to remind yourself of these happy moments at a later date, you can use a voice note app to record yourself.
You could even make this a group exercise with your friends and family—encouraging them to focus on and share the positive aspects of their lives.
Gratitude journalling is a process that involves keeping a journal of everything you're grateful for on a daily basis. It's probably one of the easiest and most popular methods of practising gratitude.
Example areas you can focus on include:
- Your favourite moment from the whole day
- Three things you're happy or grateful for
- Something nice that someone did for you
- An accomplishment (big or small)
- Someone you feel lucky to have in your life
- Something you love about yourself
You can even throw some motivational affirmations into the mix, like, "I can try again tomorrow," or, "I'm doing my best, and that is enough."
Contrary to the name, you don't have to stick to an actual journal for this exercise. You can use a notes app on your phone to jot things down in the moment.
Alternatively, you can try our gratitude journal PDF below—you can fill it out in a browser of your choice and save it as you go along! We've included sections for:
- What you're grateful for
- Daily affirmations
- What you're proud of
- What you're looking forward to
- General notes/reminders
Finding ways to say thank you to people can not only make your loved ones feel appreciated—strengthening your relationships with them—it can also teach you to be more aware of how you might be taking someone for granted.
The way that you express this gratitude depends entirely on you. It could be as simple as letting your partner know how grateful you are for their support with a few kind words or buying your colleague a cup of coffee as a thank you for helping you with a project.
You could even write a gratitude letter or email. It doesn't have to be long, and you don't even need to send it to the recipient. As long as you are taking the time to reflect on the impact that your loved ones have on your life, it's enough.
Gratitude jars are a more fun and interactive way to practise gratitude. This exercise involves writing down what you're grateful for on a slip of paper and putting it in a jar. When you're having a bad day or in a slump, you can pick out one of these notes to remind yourself of the little things in life that bring you joy.
Don't worry if you lack the time or energy for a physical jar. We've created a digital version that you can fill out as and when you need to!
Gratitude prompts are a great way to get the ball rolling when you're finding it difficult to pinpoint what it is you're thankful for. They give you a simple topic to focus on and leave the answer entirely up to you.
- Who are you grateful to have in your life?
- List three reasons why you're excited about tomorrow
- What is your favourite food?
- What was your biggest accomplishment today?
To see more examples of gratitude prompts, check out the worksheet below. We've included spaces for you to fill out the prompts and provided you with an extra sheet so that you can come up with some of your own!
Last but not least, we're rounding off our list with a fun and active exercise that aims to make you more mindful of your surroundings. Gratitude walking is all about making a concerted effort to appreciate your surroundings by utilising your five senses.
All you have to do is go for a walk and home in on your senses—paying close attention to the sights, sounds, smells and sensations you might usually ignore that can bring you a lot of joy, such as a clear blue sky, birds chirping and the feeling of a cool breeze on your face.
If you want to record what you're grateful for from your surroundings, use our 5-4-3-2-1 worksheet below!
If you're looking for more ways to improve your mental health and wellbeing, give our top five breathing exercises a try. Alternatively, keep your eyes peeled on the ManageMinds blog for more handy exercises, worksheets and advice!
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