With all the digital technologies and convenience we can enjoy today, you’d think that we’d have the time and space to be happy and feel gratitude. Nevertheless, even with these advancements, many of us still struggle to maintain perspective, and see all the things that we should be thankful for.
For instance, loneliness has become such a universal experience for so many of us today – especially during and following the pandemic years. While we live in a society that appears more connected, I often wonder to myself how connected we truly are to ourselves.
And I won’t say I’m immune either, because I’m certainly not. But when I think of maintaining my own gratitude practice, I ask myself “Where do I start?”
Today, I’ll be sharing some top methods for gratitude practice that I found during my own research. Here are a few simple ways you may find a sense of presence, gratitude and connection with your spiritual self.
1. Write it all down
One of the best ways to retain information and to keep a present focus is to write your thoughts down. We recommend keeping an annual diary for this, like a Saint Belford 2024 diary. Doing so can help you track your moods over the course of any given year, helping you measure your progress in switching from negative to positive or optimistic thinking.
An annual diary can also help you keep track of all the positive interactions and events that may come your way over the course of a year. In other words, it will help you to check in with yourself in an organic and organised way.
Try also writing down positive affirmations and what you appreciate, such as your friends and family. Then, read it all back to yourself when you do need a little moment to gain perspective, preferably aloud. Imagine yourself in the shoes of someone else, as if it were a friend who was telling you the same things. How would it make you feel?
By taking a step back and looking at things from a more objective perspective, you could find yourself surprised at just how much clarity you could gain.
2. Enjoy a cup of tea with a close friend
Speaking of friends, often having a strong support network is how we get through some of life’s more baffling struggles. As we go through life, those friends who will go out of their way, or rearrange plans to see you when you are in need or just need to debrief, are likely to be a valuable source of comfort and support. And spending time with these friends – whether it be out on a long walk, out for a spot of morning tea, or perhaps even just hanging out in each other’s bedrooms – is guaranteed to help you feel grateful when you need to.
The best thing is, your close friends are the ones who know you inside and out. A conversation over a cup of coffee can often be free therapy without knowing. Just start by saying “Hi” and let the easy conversation flow from there.
3. Take a minute to breathe
Ah, breathing – a natural task that seems so simple. What you may not know, however, is that taking a minute to breathe can be one of the best methods for anchoring yourself and ensuring that you stay present and connected.
By doing some straightforward breathing exercises here and there, you can allow yourself to slow down and take a beat. When breathing for boosting mindfulness, I like to go by a 4-4-4 method. You inhale slowly for four counts, hold the breath through your nose for four and exhale slowly, extending the breath for four counts.
If you do this repetitively as a means of relief, you may find yourself more relaxed, present, and ready to take on every new day and all the challenges and opportunities that they may bring.
4. Step out into the sunshine
To those with fairer skin tones, the sun may seem like a joker that just loves to transform your complexion to the colour of cooked lobster. But there are some undeniable mental and physiological health benefits to basking in the sun’s warm glow.
Sunshine not only provides us with a certain amount of critical vitamins (like Vitamin D, of course) but it also provides us with a good dose of our mood-boosting hormone, serotonin. Sunlight also helps to regulate our internal body clock, thanks to its production of blue light, a lack of which controls our body’s release of melatonin, the sleep hormone. So when you’re out in the sun, you’re naturally going to feel more awake and ready for anything.
5. Take time for your physical health
As we mentioned earlier, breathing can be a fantastic method for staying present and connected to both your body as well as the world around you. But when you combine breathing with the physical movements of exercise, you can experience another kind of grounding, alongside giving your body the care and attention it needs to further boost your gratitude for your body and all that it does for you.
While even the healthiest of us can all come down with a cold or two, tracking your physical health and taking time every day to do a little heart-healthy movement, can be a good way to check in with the present, as it’s our body’s natural way of telling us what’s going on.
But remember that everything in life should stay in balance. So make sure that you rest between workouts. When you take steps to care for yourself through rest, light exercise, hydration, and sleep, you may find gratitude in your ability to live comfortably and with all the nutrients, strength, and brain power that you need.
6. Take up a new hobby
All too often, what causes us to fret about the future or wonder about our worth, is that we get stuck in a tedious routine. But as human beings, the best way that we grow and learn is often through taking on new challenges and experiences. We develop and expand our knowledge by taking on new discoveries.
So why not take up a new hobby, like a craft or a technological skill? In doing so, you can learn to think and tackle problems in different ways, or even find new methods for working with your hands.
While we all have that concern that we may fail, the simple thing is to try. And who knows? You may find a brand new passion along the way.
7. Do some acts of kindness
There’s no better way to feel gratitude yourself than by instilling gratitude in others. Being able to make a positive impact on somebody else’s life can help you see the good not only in yourself, but in your wider community.
Whether it’s volunteering with food drives, a charity BBQ, or even something as simple as offering to pay it forward the next time you’re waiting in a drive thru. For sometimes, when we have the means and go out of our way to help others, we reap a much better reward and acceptance of what we have ourselves.
So go out there and do some acts of kindness whenever the opportunity arises. You may even find yourself making a few lifelong friends along the way, further widening your community and your own support network.
8. Make time for your self-care
Finally, while I did touch upon the importance of maintaining good physical health as a way to stay present, it is wise to remember that caring for your mental health requires more than just maintaining a strong fitness regime. Making time for yourself routinely can also be a great way to ensure you have the confidence you need to perform at your very best every day.
Whether you do daily practices of meditation, or a bath with your evening skincare and beauty regime, be sure to take some time to pamper yourself and wind down every day. In doing so, you’ll be able to feel calmer, rested and more at peace.
When it comes to practicing gratitude, the most important thing to remember is that the best practices are likely to be different for different people. So feel free to mix and match between the eight methods we’ve outlined above in order to perfect your own personal gratitude practice.