The Powerful Mental Health Tool Most of Us Are Overlooking

Americans’ mental health is at an all-time low. According to a Gallup poll taken in December 2020, Americans’ personal assessment of their mental health was the worst it had been in two decades. The number of survey respondents who reported “Excellent” mental health decreased 43% from 2019.

How do we combat this? It may be simpler than you think.

Gratitude is an extremely underrated mental health tool that has been proven effective against anxiety and depression in numerous scientific studies. An attitude of gratitude also benefits your physical health, relationships, and success.

November is National Gratitude Month, so there’s never been a better time to start your own gratitude practice! Many people are familiar with the concept of written practices like a gratitude journal. But enacting those practices is often easier said than done. More often than not, it just slips our mind.

Thankfully, there are other ways to weave gratitude into our everyday life that don’t require you to set aside time or pick up a pen. They require nothing but a mindset shift. These practices may seem simple but give them a try and you’ll soon realize how powerful your words can be.

Ditch the apologies.

Think about how many times a day you apologize. You almost bump into someone in the hallway– Oh, sorry… You ask a question in a meeting– sorry, can you clarify that?

Stop apologizing! Most of the times we apologize throughout our day, we only do so because we feel like we’re being an inconvenience. You can revolutionize your outlook and even boost your self-esteem by switching “sorry” for “thank you.”

If you accidentally dominate the conversation over drinks with a friend, don’t say “I’m so sorry if I’m being annoying.” Say, “Thank you for being a great listener.” If you’re late to a meeting, profuse apologies may not make you or your team feel much better, but “Thank you guys for being so patient and understanding when I was running late,” probably will.

You don’t “have” to do anything.

Switch your “I have to’s” for “I get to’s.” Instead of “I have to go to work,” try “I get to go to work.” You may not feel like it’s something to be grateful for, but there’s always someone out there who would do anything to trade places with you. This truth applies for most things in our life. Having family, friends, a job, a roof over our head, and food on the table are some of the biggest blessings in life that we so often take for granted.

You don’t have to enjoy those blessings, but your life sure would be difficult without them. Remind yourself that today you get to work out, you get to drop the kids at school, and you get to cook dinner. Get the picture?

If you think it, say it.

How often do you think, That was so nice of her, or, He did a great job on that report, without verbalizing it? We oftentimes forget to thank friends, family, and colleagues for all that they do. We convince ourselves it’s weird to say thank you out of the blue, but wouldn’t you love to hear thank you more often?

Words of affirmation go a long way for your relationships and will help you focus on the positive. Next time you think about showing someone appreciation, say it!

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