Samantha Jackson, LPC, is the adult residential programs director at Ravenwood Health. 

Editor’s note: Every month, the experts at Ravenwood Health write about an aspect of mental health. This month, Samantha Jackson, LPC, shares why practicing gratitude is beneficial. How do you cultivate a thankful spirit? Samantha’s got some great, practical tips. 

As we move into November, National Gratitude Month, and the start of the season of giving, it is important to reflect on all the positive things and people in our lives.

Gratitude is often something we say aloud to others, but not always something we feel or believe. It is the first step to improved mental health as it can increase happiness, support better health, and helps people feel more positive emotions. Gratitude can change our lives in many ways and should become part of our everyday routine.

How can you integrate gratitude into your daily life, not just throughout November? The answer is simple.  First, we start with appreciation and pinpointing what aspects of our lives are valuable to us and why. Take time to think about things that make your life easier. Try to think of things that do not cost anything as these turn out to be what we are most grateful. It can be as simple as your toothbrush (what would we do without one?) or as complex as the air we breathe.

Next, put it on paper! There is power in writing down what we are grateful for and on days that tend to be difficult, it is great to have to look back on. This tends to be a little difficult since reflecting on what we are grateful for sometimes isn’t easy and can make you feel awkward at first, but keep at it.

Start off small. Each day, for thirty days, write down at least five things for which you are grateful. Make sure to do this every day. By the end of the month, you will have at least one hundred and fifty different things that you feel gratitude. After this time, ask yourself a few questions: “Am I happier today than I was thirty days ago? Do I see myself, my surroundings, and my life differently than I have before?” Chances are your answers will be “yes” and “yes!”

Still struggling with feeling down or need more inspiration to express your gratitude? Visit our website at ravenwoodhealth.org or call 440.285.3568 to learn more or talk to someone today.

 For a great reminder to embrace who you are, read The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown.