Studies show that developing a consistent gratitude practice can help to decrease feelings of burnout and depression, improve your sleep and create higher levels of happiness. As this year of turbulent change and loss comes to a close, practicing gratitude each day can be a vital practice to help shift your mental health and support your overall sense of well-being.

A “gratitude practice” is loosely defined as intentionally appreciating what is meaningful to you, or taking time each day to give thanks for the things in your life that you value. During times of extreme stress and isolation, it can be challenging to take note of what is working, and this is when the practice of gratitude becomes most crucial.

To begin a practice, you’ll need to start by setting aside time each day to notice, reflect and write. We recommend starting first thing in the morning or an hour or so before bed. You may start by simply writing a list of things you are grateful for each day, or you can answer questions like: What went well today? What is working well in my life?

Most mental health practitioners agree that a gratitude practice should be practiced daily for two weeks before you may notice a significant shift in how you feel. Research has shown that gratitude journaling led to a more positive outlook and fewer health complaints in the majority of its participants. As winter closes in and cold weather and pandemic safety precautions keep us indoors and separated from one another, we will all need to invest significantly in our mental health and sense of perspective.

Another benefit of practicing daily gratitude is as a self check-in, to help you identify how you’re feeling and to uncover healthy ways to help move through those feelings. This year has caused financial, health and relationship stress for many people. Seeking the support of your doctor and developing healthy practices at home can help you and those you love to move through these changing times with more ease.

During these unprecedented times, our community remains significantly grateful for you, and we wish you a new year filled with much to be thankful for.