It's easy to get stressed out in your everyday life. Between work, family obligations, bills and bustling city life, it's exhausting. Half the time I don't even know how I get out of bed every day. It should come as no surprise that studies have shown that being grateful can actually lead to positive emotions that affect your mental health.
Dr. Robert Emmons Ph.D conducted a study on those effects at the University of California, Davis and his colleague Mike McCullough held the same study at the University of Miami. They would randomly assign participants in a control group different tasks and each of them kept a journal each week. According to HuffPost, one group would write about five things they were grateful for and another would write about things that were annoying. The last group was asked to just like five things that happened with neutral direction. After 10 weeks everyone who participated in the gratitude group felt so much better about their lives and general outlook. It makes sense that your gratitude increases when you actually sit down to think about what you're grateful for on a regular basis. The gratitude journal certainly doesn't hurt things and would be a helpful experiment if you're finding yourself in a particularly negative headspace.
It's hard not to compare these studies with the positive psychology associated with country living. You wake up in a much calmer setting each morning without the toxic stress of city life and are in a better position to put energy into your well-being on a daily basis.
The Southern values of being polite, kind and helpful to others put you in a position to be practicing gratitude every day. The benefits of gratitude, whether you are looking for improvement in your physical health, better sleep or mental health seem certain. Grateful people enjoy each day they are given, which puts them in a better position to help others and themselves.
Find simple things you can do every day that will help improve your life satisfaction. Express gratitude to your friends or family members after they do something nice that they might not get regular recognition for. When you're feeling down, look back on positive memories so you can have a better outlook on the future. Most importantly, take the time to write things down to fully absorb your feelings. Whether it's through a letter of gratitude or a daily journal, push through those negative emotions and work on your gratitude practices in your daily life by giving yourself credit for even the smallest things.
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