Expressing Gratitude

Have you ever thought of how your emotional health is related to your personal preparedness? Up until a few years ago I really hadn’t. But especially as we entered the pandemic, I realized that it really is a huge part of being prepared in an emergency.

As the pandemic started, we were new parents to a two month old. The grocery stores started to empty, and while we weren’t super affected by the lack of toilet paper (we had just bought a pack from Sam’s Club), the lack fo diapers and formula did effect us. I couldn’t meal plan, because we had no idea what would even be on the shelves, and our Walmart Pickup was even temporarily suspended due to the lack of items.

I was raised in Idaho, where we might occasionally have a bad snow storm come and the water and batteries might disappear for a minute, but that’s about it. My husband had served his mission in North Carolina, and had lived through a few hurricanes there. He had seen grocery stores empty in preparation for a storm; so he was able to handle seeing empty shelves much better than I was. He was mentally prepared for that situation, where I was not.

The Church has just released a new self-reliance class for emotional resilience, and my parents and some of my siblings were even in some of the pilot classes. In those classes, they teach skills to help develop healthy thinking patterns, and managing things like stress and anxiety. One of the techniques and skills they use is expressing gratitude.

How Does Gratitude Help?

There is no medication or operation that can fix the many spiritual woes and maladies that we face. There is, however, a remedy—one that may seem surprising—because it flies in the face of our natural intuitions. Nevertheless, its effects have been validated by scientists as well as men and women of faith. I am referring to the healing power of gratitude.

Russell M. Nelson

According to studies at Positive Psychology, gratitude actually changes not only our mental health, but our physical as well. Gratitude brings a sense of happiness and contentment with what we have right now. It strengthens the ties of relationships, and helps during times of adversity. Researchers have found that it even can help alleviate some of the stresses of depression by building connections to the bliss and happiness parts of the brain, and balancing hormone levels. It allows the brain to release negative emotions, and releases dopamine, to lower levels of pain. Practicing gratitude can also improve our sleep, and emotional resilience.

Finding Things to Be Grateful For

Does gratitude spare us from sorrow, sadness, grief, and pain? No, but it does soothe our feelings. It provides us with a greater perspective on the very purpose and joy of life.

Russell M. Nelson

Sometimes, life may seem so overwhelming that it’s hard to start finding things to be grateful for. In these moments, start small. Seven Summit Pathways Treatment & Recovery Center offers some questions to help you get started:

  • What has been something that has made you happy or laugh today?
  • What was something thoughtful someone did for you recently?
  • What is something about your body or personality you are grateful for?
  • What’s something you are looking forward to? Learn More…

Expressing Gratitude

With Thanksgiving coming up, it’s the perfect time to try a new gratitude exercise to prepare. There are so many simple ways to implement showing gratitude this month!

Gratitude Wall

When I was in college, my roommates and I would go buy a big strip of butcher paper, and tape it along the wall. Then, as things happened that made us laugh, or smile, or we had things we were grateful for that day, we would write them on the poster. As the semester passed, we got to watch the poster fill up. It became filled with inside jokes, weird quotes, and happy thoughts. It made the perfect space to go on bad days to remember happy moments.

Gratitude Tree

This is very similar to the gratitude wall, but instead of just having a big sheet of butcher paper, you create a tree. Then every family member can add a leaf with something that they are grateful for each day. This one is especially great if you have littles in your house!

Gratitude Jar

With this activity, you take a mason jar, and strips of paper, and write something you are grateful for each day. This can be for month, or even extend it for a whole year.

Gratitude Journal

This is probably the most popular strategy I found on mental health sites. Here, you can decide exactly how you prefer to do this. You can pick one thing every day and go into detail about why you are grateful for. Or, you can write 5-10 things every day that you feel thankful for.

Gratitude is a Spirit-filled principle. It opens our minds to a universe permeated with the richness of a living God. Through it, we become spiritually aware of the wonder of the smallest things, which gladden our hearts with their messages of God’s love. This grateful awareness heightens our sensitivity to divine direction. When we communicate gratitude, we can be filled with the Spirit and connected to those around us and the Lord. Gratitude inspires happiness and carries divine influence.

Bonnie D. Parkin

Grateful hearts breed happy homes. It boost not only our mood, but our mental, emotional, and physical health. Strengthening our ability to be grateful will strengthen our homes, and help us to become more resilient for what lies ahead.