Do you wish you could find a way to stop feeling anxious and jittery all the time? Do you want to rewire your brain so that it isn’t naturally agitated? Are you looking for new things you can try out to trick your brain into being more positive and calmer?
Gratitude is one of the best emotions a human can experience. It’s proven to have a lot of mental and physical health benefits. For a long time, it was believed that some people are predisposed to feel gratitude while others won’t feel it.
And while it’s true that genetics play a role in returning how grateful you naturally feel, that doesn’t mean you can’t learn to practice gratitude. At first, you might be skeptical, but if you give these seven gratitude practices a shot, you will soon have a calmer and more positive life.
What Is Gratitude?
Gratitude is a positive emotion that involves being thankful and appreciative. When you experience gratitude, you feel grateful for something or someone in your life. You will also feel like you want to return the gesture by being kind and generous.
Gratitude stems from recognizing that something good happened, and it has two stages. First, you acknowledge that something good happened. Second, you try to understand where that goodness came from. Because of how it forms, gratitude is often spontaneous emotion that you feel in the moment. But the body of research has suggested that this emotion can be learned and incorporated into day-to-day life.
The primary way gratitude improves health is by facilitating a state of relaxation. According to psychologist Robert Emmons, appreciation fosters a more optimistic attitude. It amplifies positive emotions, such as joy, and makes you more resilient. Grateful people tend to be less depressed, less anxious, and less stressed.
Studies show that grateful people have more brain activity in the medial prefrontal cortex. That is the part associated with learning and decision-making. Grateful people tend to be faster learners and have better decision-making skills. This is the main reason why grateful people cultivate better habits.
Benefits of Having Good Gratitude Practices
They tend to have better diets, exercise, avoid risky behaviors, and be hard workers. As a by-product of lower stress levels And better habits, grateful people have also been shown to have a better immune system lower blood pressure. According to researchers Adam Grant and Francesca Gino, gratitude leads to stronger relationships and a sense of community.
People develop a sense of trust and companionship when they appreciate each other’s help. Being openly thankful towards someone will increase the chances of them liking you. Of course, these health and social benefits go a long way in making certain stress levels as low. By helping you develop better habits and get your life together, gratitude can ensure you’re always on the right path, thus keeping your brain calmer.
Seven Gratitude Practices to Calm The Brain (and How to Start)
It seems pretty straightforward: be grateful, and everything will go right for you. But practicing gratitude can sometimes be difficult if you don’t have the proper guidelines. So, if you want to calm your brain, here are seven gratitude practices that will help you (and how to implement them).
1. Write A Gratitude Journal
People tend to lose track of little things. If someone complimented you, it would probably slip your mind. Small gestures are easily missed, especially during a busy day. When you lose track of the good that’s going on in your life, you’ll never be able to practice gratitude properly. The safest thing you can do is write everything down to ensure you won’t forget it.
Journaling reminds you that the world is not as hostile as it seems. Having to write down what good things happened in your day physically will force you to acknowledge the positives in your life. The physical act of writing something down can also be a calming gesture whenever you feel anxious.
At the end of each day (or when you need an emotional lift), write down a few things you are grateful for. Savor the positive feelings that come when you think about them. Research shows that after eight weeks of doing this, you will have managed to rewire your brain for gratitude.
2. Spend Time With People You Care About
Spending time with people you love will open your eyes to the positives in your life. Use your free time to meet friends and family. It will boost your mood and make you more appreciative of what you have.
Spending time with people will make you acknowledge how much you have. If you want to be grateful, you need to share your appreciation openly. Tell your family you are thankful to have them around. Let your friends know how important they are to you. Remind your significant other how much you love them.
Always thank people who lend you a hand. And, if you can, repay their kindness. Focus on others and try to let go of selfish behaviors. You will feel much more fulfilled when you make someone else happy rather than when you make yourself comfortable. The more content you are and the more helpful you feel, the less stressed and anxious you will become.
3. Release Toxic Emotions
One of the main reasons people can be grateful is because there bottling up negative emotions. No matter how hard they try to focus on the positives, the negatives always overshadow them. To practice gratitude, you need to release all negativity from your brain and body consciously.
And this is a cycle. The more grateful you feel, the more able you would release toxic emotions. This happens because the hippocampus and the amygdala, the two main sites regulating emotions and memory, get activated by gratitude. Gratitude governs the level of dopamine in the body, failing people with more vitality and reducing subjective feelings of pain.
As long as you either release toxic emotions or practice gratitude, you should have no problem when it comes to regulating your mood. Studies have shown that people who wrote letters of appreciation to others recovered sooner from a mental issue.
4. Meditate as a Gratitude Practice
This seems to be the most generic suggestion that you will get when searching for ways to calm yourself down. But It’s always recommended precisely because it works and it’s very customizable. When it comes to learning to be more thankful, meditating is the best gratitude practice out there.
Find a quiet and comfortable environment, close your eyes, and start taking deep breaths. Focus on the rhythm of your breathing and on what your body is feeling. This will act as an anchor to keep you grounded and help you clear your mind of irrelevant things.
When your mind gets clear, you can focus on understanding precisely what you should be grateful for. The simple fact that you’re still breathing can be one of those things you’re thankful for. If you meditate regularly, you can become a grateful person by nature.
5. Pause And Reflect
Sometimes your brain starts overanalyzing and overthinking everything for no apparent reason. When you feel like you’re starting to be anxious and overwhelmed, the best thing you can do is pause and reflect.
Before tackling anything stressful, give yourself five minutes in which you do nothing but reflect on everything good that’s going on around you. Think about how finishing that task is going to get you fulfillment. Think about how lucky you are that you can do what’s required of you. When you charge yourself with positive energy, you can return to doing what you have to do.
6. Remember What You Have Been Through
Many people get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of responsibilities they have in life. Working, having a family, having a hobby, juggling all of these activities can stress your brain out. You might be tempted to give in to the pressure and just get overwhelmed. To avoid this, remember what you’ve been through and what you’re capable of.
When you take a minute and reflect on your past experiences, you’ll find that you’ve been through tougher times before. Remembering how much you’ve overcome can help you find the confidence to do what you need to do in the present. Plus, seeing how much worse your life could be will make you instantly grateful for the life you have now.
7. Create A Gratitude Practice Routine
At first, practicing gratitude constantly will seem like an impossible task. You will need to remind yourself all the time to pay attention to the goodness around you and not just dismiss it. So, it might be helpful to create a gratitude routine that works for you.
You could start by listing a few things you’re grateful for every morning before getting out of bed. Part of your gratitude routine could be giving at least five compliments every day. You can do whatever you want as long as you show did you acknowledge the positive and be thankful for it.
Practicing gratitude kicks off a self-perpetuating cycle in your brain. As psychology writer Christian Jarett says, the more you practice gratitude, the more attuned you are to it. After a while, gratitude will become part of your personality.
Final Thoughts On Some Gratitude Practices to Calm The Brain
Gratitude is one of the most beautiful can helpful emotions a human can experience. Unfortunately, as the world gets more hectic, people start being too busy for gratitude. If you feel overwhelmed and like your brain won’t calm down, you might benefit from implementing the gratitude practices described above in your life.
There are many ways through which people can learn to be grateful. But, at the core, gratitude means acknowledging the positives in your life and understanding why they happened. Appreciation has been shown to have numerous health benefits. The most obvious are the psychological ones, especially the reduction of anxiety levels.
It helps you have a generally more positive attitude towards life, thus allowing you to be happier. It also benefits a person’s physical health, like boosting the immune system. Overall, gratitude is necessary to have a healthy lifestyle and calm the brain.