One important piece in the early steps of your recovery journey can lead to mental and physical well-being, increased happiness, improved relationships, reduced stress, better sleep, and enhanced overall life satisfaction. What is it? It’s adopting a sense of appreciation for what you have. In this blog post, we’ll explain how to shift your perspective to daily gratitude and how you can even change your brain for the better.
Gratitude is a positive emotion and involves an attitude of appreciation towards someone or something. During the early stages of recovery, living with gratitude can mean recognizing and acknowledging the goodness, kindness, and value of what you have received from treatment and your support system. Practicing gratitude is a part of learning coping skills and strategies to sustain your recovery long-term while still in treatment. Evidence shows living with gratitude can even make positive changes to the brain. Hannah’s House teaches coping skills as part of its personalized program for women needing substance use or co-occurring disorder treatment.
What is living with gratitude?
Living with gratitude involves making thankfulness a basic element of your everyday existence. It extends past isolated gestures of gratitude to become a way of being and understanding the world. Being focused and present in the moment allows you to fully experience and enjoy the present rather than lingering in the past or worrying about the future. Negative or difficult conditions might be reframed as chances for growth or learning. You can work to maintain a more positive attitude by focusing on each day’s good aspects.
In addition, living with thankfulness does not imply dismissing or disregarding life’s trials and tragedies. Instead, it involves looking for silver linings, lessons, or opportunities for progress, even during difficult circumstances. When you develop resilience, you may find new ways to face future adversity and give yourself something to celebrate.
How can I practice expressing gratitude?
When expressing gratitude, the key is to be honest and obvious. Make it a practice to actively seek out opportunities to express your appreciation and gratitude to others, as well as to reflect on the positive parts of your own life. By practicing thankfulness on a daily basis, you generate a positive ripple effect that may improve your relationships, well-being, and general happiness.
- Start a Gratitude Journal: Every day, set out a few minutes to jot down three things you are grateful for in your home life. Consider the good parts of your relationships, living situation, or daily activities.
- Create Rituals of Gratitude: Planning a meal for friends or family can be an expression of gratitude for the support from loved ones, your home, and the food itself. Making it something you do daily can have a greater impact on your recovery.
- Use Random Acts of Kindness: Show gratitude by performing acts of kindness for your family members. Whether it’s helping with household chores, leaving thank you notes, or surprising them in some small and positive way, this type of behavior can help repair relationships and make you feel good about yourself.
- Send Gratitude Emails: Acknowledge colleagues, supervisors, and others for their efforts, support, or contributions by sending thank-you emails. Give clear examples of how their effort has benefited you and others.
- Thank Your Team/Department: Set out a few minutes in team meetings to express your gratitude for ways others set you up for success at work every day.
- Show Appreciation and Recognition: Take the initiative to acknowledge and praise your coworkers’ successes by recognizing their awards or accomplishments.
- Do Random Acts of Kindness: Express thanks to strangers or people you meet on a regular basis. Give a sincere smile, hold the door, or assist someone who is in need.
- Hand Out Thank You Notes: Keep thank-you notes on hand and write them whenever you receive great service, compassion, or assistance. Leave these messages for servers, delivery persons, or anybody who has impacted you positively.
- Practice Gratitude Meditation: Through meditation, you can set aside a few moments each day to reflect on your blessings and become aware of the feelings tied to your appreciation.
Can gratitude change the brain?
There is evidence that living with gratitude can impact the brain in numerous ways. One controlled trial of 300 students revealed that when people felt more appreciative, their brain activity was distinct from brain activity associated with guilt and the desire to support a cause. More precisely, it revealed that when people who are normally more thankful donated more money to a cause, their neuronal sensitivity in the medial prefrontal cortex, a brain region connected with learning and decision-making, increased. This implies that those who are more grateful are also more conscious of how they show their thanks outwardly. Most notably, when the study compared individuals who wrote appreciation letters to those who did not, those who wrote gratitude letters exhibited increased activity in the medial prefrontal cortex in the fMRI scanner when they experienced thankfulness. This discovery was made three months after the letter-writing began, suggesting the potential for long-term consequences on the brain.
How can gratitude influence my recovery efforts?
Breaking away from harmful thought patterns and behaviors is a common part of recovery from drug or alcohol use. Gratitude is a helpful way to shift your daily thoughts away from past mistakes, regrets, or cravings. It also promotes remaining optimistic by nurturing a more hopeful attitude on your recovery path. By moving your focus away from cravings or negative influences, gratitude practices can help replace habits leading to relapse with healthier alternatives.
In addition, addiction is frequently accompanied by emotions of guilt, shame, and self-blame. Gratitude fosters self-compassion by acknowledging your efforts, progress, and the strength required to recover. Another way that gratitude might aid recovery is by strengthening support networks. Thanking your support system, which may include friends, family, therapists, or support group members, can strengthen those bonds and give you the encouragement and accountability required for a lasting recovery.
Hannah’s House is a well-known care provider offering a range of treatment programs targeting the recovery from substance use, mental health issues, and beyond. Our primary mission is to provide a clear path to a life of healing and restoration. We offer renowned clinical care for addiction and have the compassion and professional expertise to guide you toward lasting sobriety. For more information about the stages of alcoholism in women or to learn about our programs, call us today: 561.841.1272.