The Student Newspaper of Cathedral Catholic High School

Dons Press

The Student Newspaper of Cathedral Catholic High School

Dons Press

The Student Newspaper of Cathedral Catholic High School

Dons Press

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Unveiling the Power of Gratitude

One way to practice gratitude is by keeping a gratitude journal. This journal can help you reflect on the positive moments of your day or what you are grateful for. You can write in this journal throughout or once a day; the choice is yours!

You may have heard about practicing gratitude and writing down what you are thankful for, but what exactly does it entail and how can it benefit you?

First, gratitude fuels optimism.

Practicing gratitude means “regularly focusing on the positive parts of your life,” as stated by UCLA Health. Furthermore, “research shows that practicing gratitude — 15 minutes a day, five days a week — for at least six weeks can enhance mental wellness and possibly promote a lasting change in perspective.” 

UCLA Health shares that taking time to be thankful may improve various aspects of our lives, firstly, by reducing depression. In a review by UCLA Health, 70 studies that included responses from “more than 26,000 people found an association between higher levels of gratitude and lower levels of depression.” Additionally, “gratitude seems to reduce depression symptoms — people with a grateful modesty report higher satisfaction with life, strong social relationships and more self-esteem than those who don’t practice gratitude.”

Second, gratitude can lessen anxiety, worry, or negative thinking. 

It can be a coping tool for anxiety; “regularly practicing gratitude combats negative thinking patterns by keeping you focused on the present. If you find yourself focusing on negative thoughts about the past or future, challenge yourself to find something you are grateful for.” 

Third, gratitude can support heart health. 

“Several studies show that a grateful mindset positively affects biomarkers associated with the risk of heart disease.” Improving symptoms of depression, sleep, diet, and exercise can also reduce the risk of heart disease. Having grateful thoughts, whether you write them down or not, “helps your heart by slowing and regulating your breathing to synchronize with your heartbeat.” 

Fourth, gratitude can relieve stress.

This is because it can help calm the nervous system. “Stress triggers a fight-or-flight response in your nervous system — your heart beats faster, muscles contract and adrenaline pumps.”

Fifth, gratitude can improve sleep. 

“People with an attitude of gratitude tend to pursue goals that keep them feeling good — a positive attitude promotes positive action.” Not only does what you do during the day play a role in sleeping well, “thinking positive thoughts before falling asleep promotes better sleep — and there’s evidence that gratitude causes people to have positive thoughts about their life, social support and social situations.” 

Mayo Clinic also concludes that “gratitude should be practiced daily.” Thinking of the people you are grateful for or reflecting on any gestures you experience throughout your day are small ways to appreciate even the little things in your life.  

On the science side, “behavior changes biology. Positive gestures benefit you by releasing oxytocin, a hormone that helps connect people.” Therefore, “sharing kindness can make you healthier and happier.” 

Strive for a gratitude mindset; you can practice this habit to implement it in your life in many ways. Finding a time during the day to write in a journal to reflect on the positive moments in your day, think of what you are thankful for, focus on the positive side of a situation instead of the negative, or tell those in your life that you are grateful for them are all great ways to start. 

Amidst the new year and creating resolutions, consider dedicating some time during the week to prioritize gratitude and consider how it will improve your health. So, what are you grateful for?

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About the Contributor
Carissa Vanzant-Thomas
Carissa Vanzant-Thomas, Columns Editor
Hi! I’m Carissa Vanzant-Thomas, and I’m passionate about wellness and mental health. As the lead editor of the wellness column, I have learned many new things about the importance of self-care and maintaining our mental health. I believe that being a journalist on this topic will help spread awareness of the mental health crisis and hopefully be a great resource to CCHS students. In my free time, I enjoy baking, watching movies, and spending time with my family and friends.

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