How to Practice Gratitude When You’re Struggling

We’ve all been there. Too many tests, everything going wrong, and something hitting back home. But, knowing how to practice gratitude can change your whole perception.

It’s hard to stay positive in times when it feels like the world is on fire. And sometimes, it really is. But, I’ve learned a secret that helped me stay afloat when all I wanted was to stay in bed, watch Rick & Morty, and not talk to other humans again: Attitude is everything. Starting every day fresh can help you not only look at the silver lining but find happiness in the little things when things get really tough.

Ways of doing this for me have included meditation, writing, exercise, or talking to a friend. Everyone has their preference for self-care or entertainment. So, if watching a movie by yourself or going on a run isn’t your thing, don’t sweat it. Find something you genuinely love doing every day for yourself, not because it needs to be done to feel productive.

As holidays approach, we can’t ignore the festivities of it all. Tis’ the season for family, friends, and Michael Bublé’s Christmas album. Whether you’re far from home or not, make sure to call your mom or best friend and chat. And you cannot forget to say “Thank you” for their presence. Now, this is the key to gratitude. Giving thanks for the people and the world around you can automatically boost your mood and your perception. Write a “thank you” note to your roommate, your professor, or even yourself.

This also helps if you just write down a list of things that make you happy. Putting pen to paper and writing all that you’re grateful for is a physical reminder that life could be a lot worse. If you’re the artistic, right-brained type, try drawing or coloring in a notebook to relieve stress and express emotions.

Another way, if you really find it hard to stay positive in the roughest of ruts, is to send yourself messages of encouragement. I used to think this was the lamest method ever. That persisted until I saw my mom write notes for my older brother on the bathroom mirror when he was in high school. My brother, the varsity wrestler and a total guy’s guy, receiving cliché words of support on post-it notes? Huh, turns out mental health and self-love aren’t lame after all.

Lastly, the best thing to do to exercise your gratitude is to help others. Especially during the holiday season, it’s important to support those in need and share positivity with loved ones. Try volunteering somewhere or even cook a meal for someone else. Helping others find happiness in the tiny stuff will help you too. I promise.


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