It’s been a rough year—for everyone.
Wherever you live in the world, you have likely encountered a global pandemic, social isolation, economic slowdown, and civil unrest. Whether or not you have been personally affected by any of these factors, you almost certainly know someone who has.
And our mental well-being has suffered as a result.
In my country, the USA, according to the CDC:
- 40% of people have experienced a mental or behavioral health condition related to the coronavirus epidemic.
- 1 in 4 have experienced symptoms of depression—4X higher than previous years.
- 1 in 10 had considered suicide at some point during the last 30 days—an increase of 100% from previous years.
- 13.3% of Americans have begun or increased substance use to cope with stress related to the epidemic.
Our mental well-being has suffered greatly during 2020.
For that reason, it is more important than ever to embrace the month of November as a month of gratitude. No matter where you live, no matter how the pandemic is affecting your locality, no matter how your political elections turn out, this is the month to begin righting the ship toward healthier mental well-being.
It is no longer possible to wait for better days. It is essential that we take back control.
Now, let’s be clear, if you are suffering with anxiety, depression, or suicidal thoughts, intentionally embracing gratitude this coming month may not be all you need. But it is something you can do right away and may just begin to turn the cycle around in your own life.
Gratitude is a topic I have repeatedly turned to on this blog.
Minimalism sparked a renewed passion for it in my life. Research that I was not previously aware of confirmed its importance to a new level. And the recent decline in mental well-being increased my desire to return to it today.
The Benefits of Gratitude
Gratitude offers numerous mental and physical health benefits. Its importance cannot be overstated:
Gratitude reduces stress and makes us more resilient.
Gratitude helps us feel more positive emotions.
Gratitude unshackles us from toxic emotions.
Gratitude improves our self-esteem.
Gratitude decreases the symptoms of depression.
Gratitude helps us sleep better.
Gratitude improves our interpersonal relationships.
Gratitude enhances optimism.
Gratitude can even help us lower blood pressure, stop smoking, or lose weight.
How to Practice Gratitude this November
Given all the mental and physical benefits of gratitude, how do we become intentional in practicing more of it?
There are many plans and ideas to spur gratitude this coming month. It is, after all, National Gratitude Month. And because of that, there may be no month more important to start a daily gratitude practice than right now.
To get you started, I’ll include a few popular approaches to finding gratitude this month:
- Use an app: Grateful.
- Write 1 Gratitude Email each day in November.
- Commit to increased thankfulness during prayer or meditation this month.
- Start a new November tradition with your family.
Any of these ideas above would be helpful. I have committed myself to increased thankfulness during prayer/meditation this month. But maybe a different approach would work better for you.
One important key to remember is that the benefits of gratitude are most experienced when we intentionally choose to practice it regardless of our circumstances, rather than waiting for more positive circumstances.
No matter what trial you may be facing, there is always, always, always something to be thankful for. And the sooner we get started recognizing those good things, the sooner we’ll discover even more.