Having an attitude of gratitude may sound cliché, but in these unprecedented times, gratitude may be just the boost you need to help reframe and create a more positive experience during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Gratitude is a strong tool to help you reframe things during a hard time,” said Dr. Yazhini Srivathsal, a psychiatrist with Banner Behavioral Health Hospital. For example, instead of saying you’re stuck at home, changing the sentiment to being safe at home, or even being thankful for having a home can help you mentally during a time that feels anything but positive.
Being grateful doesn’t mean you push aside the other feelings or are passive about what is going on in your life, Dr. Srivathsal said. “We can still have a lot of other feelings about things going on, including sadness, anger, or grief,” she said. “It’s good to allow ourselves to feel all these other feelings, yet not forget about the things and reasons we are grateful.”
Let Gratitude Be Your Guide
When it’s hard to see past anxiety or stress in a situation, let gratitude be your guide. Because we may focus so much on what we’re missing out on, we often forget about all the good things we’re experiencing through this situation. Instead of desiring a change that isn’t always possible, gratitude is one way to realize your satisfaction with what you have and where you are.
“Practicing gratitude does not just make you feel better momentarily, but it is also good for your physical and emotional well-being,” Dr. Srivathsal said. “It helps with decreasing stress levels, improving sleep, pain tolerance and self-esteem. It can help you make better decisions including lifestyle choices and decrease risk for chronic medical conditions like hypertension and diabetes.”
Dr. Srivathsal said during a challenging time it’s important to look for little things to be happy about, even if it takes extra effort.
Gratitude Gets Better with Practice
“Prioritize things in such a way that brings in more meaning, mental peace, and happiness for you,” Dr. Srivathsal said. “Just like a lot of other aspects of our lives, gratitude also gets better with practice.”
Here are some suggestions of ways you can adopt – and practice – gratitude into your routine:
- Start a gratitude journal or notebook: Start each day, or end each night, with jotting down things you’re grateful for. It could be as simple as the sun shining, having food in your refrigerator or remembering something nice someone did for you.
- Meditate or take time to reflect: Focus on the things you are grateful for or count your blessings as the mental focus for a meditation or a reflective time.
- Express your gratitude: Demonstrate your gratitude for others by sending a thank you note, an email or recognizing them for what they’ve done or how they’ve impacted your life.
For more advice on how to manage your mental health during this uncertain time consult an expert, schedule an appointment with a Banner Health behavioral health provider.