Mental health is… gratitude!

Research shows that being thankful and practicing gratitude consistently can significantly benefit mental health. In fact, gratitude:

Strengthens our relationships. Expressing appreciation and acknowledging the contributions of those around us is powerful. Letting others know we value them and are thankful for them deepens the connection between us. It can also be the first step of building wonderful new relationships.

Improves our mental health. Practicing gratitude is proven to reduce stress, improve mood, boost self esteem, and nurture optimism. It also helps build resilience and the ability to handle difficult situations.

Provides benefits for our physical health. Having an attitude of gratitude can, over time, improve sleep quality, increase energy, decrease blood pressure, and cause our cardiovascular system to function better.

During this time of year, Thanksgiving is a natural way to begin talking about gratitude. An easy strategy to incorporate this with your young people is a “Gratitude Jar.” Beginning on Monday of the week of Thanksgiving, have everyone in your family write (or draw) something they are thankful for each day and put it in a jar. It could be something small that happened that day or something more important that impacts their lives in a big way. On Thanksgiving, or at the end of the week, take everything out of the jar and share what each person had to say.

Try it! You may decide to continue the tradition every year, or keep the “Gratitude Jar” and use it more often.