Finding Gratitude During COVID-19
By: Cailin Peterson ‘21, microbiology, wellness assistant
“In these unprecedented and trying times…”
With every email starting with this reminder of how difficult this year has been, it can be hard to remember the things we are grateful for. Studies have shown that practicing gratitude regularly can improve overall mood and health while decreasing anxiety and depression, but many people have lost a lot of things to be grateful for with this strange new lifestyle.
So how do you add more gratitude to your life when it can feel so hard to find things to be grateful for?
Start with the small things. Something as simple as “I am grateful for the air I am breathing today” is a great place to start in building a gratitude practice. If you want to start up a regular gratitude practice, it’s important to find a way that works for you to build it into your daily routine. One thing I like to do is practice gratitude along with mindfulness. Nature is something that has always inspired gratitude in me, so taking time to be outside and be mindful of the world around me is an important gratitude practice for me. As I go on my (almost) daily walk, I say an internal thank you to the trees, the clouds, the grass. When you develop feelings of gratitude toward things that are simple and abundant, you always have much to be thankful for.
Another great method is stress/gratitude journaling. Writing your worries, then balancing them with gratitude is a great way to acknowledge any stress you are feeling without letting it overwhelm or bear you down. Taking time to start or end your day by writing down a few things you’re grateful for can help you keep those things in mind throughout the day, and help you be more creative with your gratitude. Challenging yourself to come up with something new each day is a great way to expand your gratitude and keep yourself from repeating the same things. When you only write “I’m glad to be alive” every day, the practice might start to lose its meaning.
If you’re like me and struggle with building a routine, try creating a visual reminder to practice gratitude throughout your day. This could be as blatant as leaving sticky notes that say “Be grateful” around the house, or something subtler like a piece of jewelry that reminds you of something you’re grateful for. I personally have pictures from good memories printed and put up on my wall, reminding me to reflect on and be grateful for the positive people and events of my life. This is especially important for me as I usually use new adventures and experiences as a form of self-care and growth, but can no longer do a lot of those things. Putting up reminders of past experiences reminds me to be grateful for the memories I have rather than sad about the things we’re missing.
Expressing gratitude to others is another great way to practice while improving relationships, and another person’s day. This can be as simple as a text/call to a friend or you can write a gratitude letter to tell someone why you appreciate having them in your life.We all know how difficult it can be to find the energy or motivation to add something new