The beginning of November always brings on a flurry of social media posts from friends focused on gratitude. I love seeing everyone’s extra effort during this time of year to take moment to be grateful.
When life gets busy or extra complicated, it can be hard to focus on gratitude as a daily practice, and as a mom, I know that gratitude is one of the last things that come to mind during a toddler meltdown.
But, there’s a lot more to be said for having a daily gratitude ritual in your life and goes way beyond just feeling happier about the people around you.
Jane Hart, MD, writes in an article, “Practicing Gratitude Linked to Better Health…” the evidence-based connection between a regular gratitude practice and improving health and wellness in multiple areas of a person’s life, including lowered blood pressure, improved immune function, better sleep, as well as a lowered lifetime risk of anxiety and depression, just to name a few things.
So, if any of those things sound like something you’d like to get a better handle on, now is the perfect time to start making gratitude a daily habit.
What is a daily gratitude practice
A daily gratitude practice is simply taking a little time to intentionally think about the things you are thankful or grateful for in your life at the moment. It can be small things or big things and your idea of gratitude in your life is completely unique to you.
When we get caught up in the day-to-day of busy schedules and activities, it can be easy for small things to blend in and forget that they make our lives so much better. So, by taking a few minutes each day to reflect on what these small (or big) things are, it forces us to stop and acknowledge them.
How to create a gratitude practice on little time
Before you decide you don’t have time for it, here’s a few ways you can introduce gratitude in your daily routine without it taking any additional time.
1. Pair it up with a regular habit you already have.
There’s a reason why people love gratitude challenges on social media in November. You’re already scrolling and on social media, so why not just do a quick post reflecting on a gratitude? It also adds the extra element of accountability. Your friends will be reaching out and asking you about your challenge as soon as they stop seeing your daily posts, so it’s a great way to stay committed.
2. Multi-tasking approved.
I’m normally not an advocate for multi-tasking, as it quickly leads to overwhelm in many other areas of our life. But, this is an exception. Find a daily activity you already do, and make a point to think of your gratitude list while you’re doing it. It will become a natural reminder for you to be thankful before you know it! My favorite is while I’m taking a shower. If you’re short on time this is a great time to enjoy the silence and thinking about all the things you’re grateful for.
3. Add it to your journaling routine.
If you have a daily journaling routine for fitness, nutrition, or just your daily to-do list. Add a few sentences at the bottom each day for what you’re grateful for. I have an awesome planning calendar I use to plan out all my business activities, and there’s even a spot built in for writing your gratitudes.
4. Flip the script.
Over the next 30 days, make a mental note every time you’re getting down about something going on in your life and think about the things you’re grateful for instead. For example – Kids fighting? I’m thankful for two healthy kids that are learning how to sort out their differences. Traffic extra bad one day? I’m grateful for my car and the ability to transport myself places.
5. Get the family involved.
Family dinners remain a non-negotiable in my life, even with non-stop schedules. And as a way to get the kids to talk about their day, I ask them “What was one thing good that happened today?” Or “What are you thankful for today?”.
First, kids are hilarious when answering these kinds of questions, but second, it really highlights how easy this exercise can be! There’s nothing like being reminded that the sun was shining today or that they got to go outside to see how the simple things in life are sometimes the best.
6. It shouldn’t take more than a few minutes.
Routines like this can get overwhelming if it takes more than 5 minutes each day to complete. So make a point to limit yourself to less than 3 minutes to write your gratitude list.
7. It will get easier.
When I started writing out gratitude list, it was SO HARD to think of things to write down. So, start with the obvious. Are you grateful for a roof over your head? For warm water in the morning? For food on the table?
When you’re stuck on what to write, the littlest gratitude will make a big difference, and you might be surprised to find yourself noticing other things you’re grateful for throughout the day as you get used to this new exercise.
Lastly, help yourself make it a habit be adding it to your daily to-do list, adding it as a reminder on your phone, or tying a reward to it (Example: No social media until your gratitude is done for the day!)
By getting into this routine and seeing the positive effects it has on your life, you’ll want to keep going all year long! So, let’s start now.
Write in the comments – what are you grateful for today?