Individuals in recovery from mental health disorders or substance use disorder (SUD) endure daily challenges as they pursue healthier behaviors in their lives. Fortunately, there are many strategies available to promote healing, one of which is gratitude. Understanding the role of gratitude in healing can be especially beneficial for those in recovery, as gratitude practices offer profound benefits for mental and physical wellness.
At 12 South Recovery, we offer client-focused treatment for mental health and addiction. Furthermore, we promote the use of holistic modalities and strategies to foster whole-person healing of the mind, body, and spirit in tandem. As gratitude is recognized as a key mindfulness practice, we encourage our clients to practice gratitude in their daily lives both inside and outside of treatment.
What Is Gratitude?
According to an article in Psychiatry (Edgmont):
The word “gratitude” has a number of different meanings, depending on the context. However, a practical clinical definition is as follows—gratitude is the appreciation of what is valuable and meaningful to oneself; it is a general state of thankfulness and/or appreciation.
In other words, gratitude is the experience of being thankful on purpose. It involves a deliberate appreciation of someone or something. Furthermore, this appreciation is known to elicit a positive emotional reaction.
Being thankful on purpose is certainly easier said than done. Likewise, it is common for people to endure challenges that interfere with their ability or willingness to foster gratitude. For instance, in the early stages of addiction recovery, cravings and temptations can perpetuate negative thoughts and emotions. This can cloud an individual’s ability to consider the positives. Still, it is important to remember that despite what a person may be going through, there is always room to practice gratitude.
The Role of Gratitude in Mental Wellness
According to the publication NIH News In Health, “Taking the time to feel gratitude may improve your emotional well-being by helping you cope with stress. Early research suggests that a daily practice of gratitude could affect the body, too.” Daily gratitude practices encourage a person to focus intentionally on the positive things in life, which over time can trigger lasting positive changes in the brain.
Additionally, a research review published in the Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning examined the impact of gratitude. The authors of the article explain that practicing gratitude increases an individual’s ability to remain both focused and resilient when faced with learning-related challenges. Moreover, “Psychologically, people who reflect and reframe their experience from a perspective of gratitude experience more positive emotions, lower levels of stress, and healthier relationships.”
Other, additional benefits of gratitude include:
- Enhanced quality of interpersonal relationships
- Reduced depression and anxiety
- Improved sleep
- A deeper connection with nature
- Improved pain tolerance
- Increased self-confidence
- Greater resiliency and patience
- Easier time preventing relapse in addiction recovery
- Improved mood
- Decreased grief
- Enhanced life satisfaction
Implementing Daily Gratitude Practices
As anyone can see, the benefits of gratitude are not to be ignored. From enhancing emotional wellness to improving physical health and relationships, gratitude is an essential element of wellness. Still, implementing a daily gratitude practice can be fraught with challenges. For this reason, it can be helpful to recognize all of the different ways that a person can foster gratitude in their daily life.
Simple suggestions for how to foster gratitude include:
- Meditating on gratitude: Spending intentional time each day meditating on the things that a person is grateful for can be especially beneficial. Furthermore, this can be done as a daily practice.
- Sharing gratitude with others: A person can get together with friends and other loved ones regularly to discuss the people, places, and things that they are grateful for.
- Active listening: Remembering to practice active listening when in a conversation with another person is a simple way to practice gratitude in daily life.
More involved ways of practicing gratitude include:
- Writing a letter: Individuals can consider writing a letter to a friend, family member, therapist, or another person who has impacted their life, highlighting all of the qualities they are grateful for in this person.
- Giving gifts: Gift-giving, whether it be a gift that was crafted or purchased, is another way to foster gratitude toward others. Spontaneous gifts are often the most meaningful.
- Offering help: Each person has a unique skill set that they can use to foster meaningful gratitude in their lives. For instance, offering personal services to someone in need can foster not only gratitude but also humility and kindness toward someone who may greatly benefit from it.
The Role of Gratitude on Treatment and Recovery
Whether a person has recently completed addiction treatment or is in enduring their first few days of sobriety, gratitude can be especially valuable for enhancing motivation and willingness to commit to recovery. At 12 South Recovery, we offer a plethora of therapeutic modalities and treatments for clients. We especially emphasize the value of mindfulness in healing.
Our holistic modalities are known to complement the traditional treatment process in a way that fosters lasting physical, mental, and spiritual wellness for each and every client. No matter where an individual stands on their recovery journey, gratitude has the ability to enhance their healing.
Gratitude is the experience of being intentionally thankful or grateful for someone or something. In recovery, gratitude practices offer opportunities for deeper healing and wellness. Gratitude promotes endless benefits for an individual’s well-being. From writing a letter to giving a gift or merely spending quality time with a loved one, gratitude can have profound effects on your life. At 12 South Recovery, we pride ourselves on the use of holistic modalities to complement traditional treatments. We offer several outpatient programs that are both highly structured and flexible, enabling you to heal at your own pace. To learn more about our treatment center or the benefits of gratitude, give us a call today at (888) 830-8374.