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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at FSU chapter.

Being a woman is a one-of-a-kind experience, where we are continuously learning and growing with our changing bodies and mindsets, all while trying to pave the way for the next generation of women. It can be overwhelming trying to be who we want to be, while also learning to let go and learn from our past selves. Because of this, it is imperative to learn to express gratitude for ourselves and our lives, as I have seen the impact it has had on my own mental health. 

The art of expressing gratitude can be described as feeling thankful and even lucky for a particular part of our lives. This gratefulness is seen as a positive and warm emotion that allows us to handle things with care and attention. What I will be sharing with you is what I have gained so far from practicing gratitude this women’s history month.

improved well-being and satisfaction

Experiencing gratitude tends to have a correlation with the way we feel about our life and state of being. According to a recent study, “Experiencing gratitude, thankfulness, and appreciation tends to foster positive feelings, which in turn, contribute to one’s overall sense of well-being. Therefore, gratitude appears to be one component, among many components, that contributes to an individual’s well-being.”

I’ve experienced a sense of contentment and peace with who I am and how I am doing in life. I became satisfied with what is, rather than focusing on what it should’ve been or could’ve been. This feeling of satisfaction within my life then overpours into my ability to appreciate the world and people around me. 

better stress management

With gratitude comes the skill to manage stress better. Although it is normal to be preoccupied with our daily activities, it is important to learn how to not let these tasks get the best of us and cause us unnecessary stress. 

Learning the art of gratitude can help reduce anxiety driven by stress. The Cypress Counseling Center explains: “Gratitude can also help to minimize and mitigate other symptoms associated with anxiety. According to a study published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information in the United States, gratitude helps to manage sleep disorders, including insomnia. Gratitude blocks toxic emotions, such as resentment, envy, depression, and regret.” 

Although it is normal to encounter situations that may be stressful, I’ve learned to shift my perspective and mindset in those moments. For example, rather than stating how I “have” to do something, I shifted the narrative to I “get to do this.” The reality is more than half of the things I am stressing about I asked for, such as the ability to go to a great university but then having to complete assignments. Finding an appreciation for the things I take for granted has given me the ability to manage stress better and learn from these experiences. 

boost the “happy” hormones

It’s no secret that gratitude is often associated with positive emotions, but what exactly does it do to the brain? For starters, gratitude encourages the production of happy hormones and emotions that make us feel better. According to the Brain Balance Centers, “…gratitude can boost neurotransmitter serotonin and activate the brain stem to produce dopamine. Dopamine is our brain’s pleasure chemical. The more we think positive, grateful thoughts, the healthier and happier we feel.” 

When I began to practice this art, there was a moment of uncertainty that was backed by anxiety and frustration about why certain things weren’t going my way or the way I wanted things to go. After some time, I began to realize that gratitude is learning to be thankful and finding all the little things that make life a little more pleasing every day. This then triggered me to be satisfied and happy with myself and what I am doing. I found myself feeling lucky and even positive in the midst of situations that would’ve broken me before. It was an enlightening experience, to say the least. These happy hormones I was feeling were there all along, I just needed to activate them with a little sprinkle of gratitude. 

Personally, gratitude is something I’ve been working on and feel I want to improve on it. After practicing it and speaking positively about myself and those around me, I’ve noticed a positive difference in how I manage stress and obstacles. As a woman, I feel it is even more important to practice gratitude, given how positively it has changed my life and way of thinking. 

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Madelyn Mairena is currently a Senior majoring in Advertising at Florida State University. She has been a writer for Her Campus since her freshman year and has found a passion for getting down to the nitty-gritty details of hot topics, as well as interviewing inspiring leaders and artists. For all business inquiries, please reach out to her at madelynstar11@gmail.com.