Ways to Practice Gratitude and Improve Mental Health
Each year in May for Mental Health Month, we support nationwide initiatives to bring awareness to mental health issues, offer supportive and educational materials to help you on your journey to mental wellness, and share how CBD products fit into a mental wellness lifestyle.
Through this work, we’ve noticed that there are some common threads for people who have mental health issues and find healthy ways to make the most of it. For starters, they work hard to stay positive and practice gratitude. This is a good foundation for doing the work to improve your mental health and find greater mental wellness.
Key Points Today
- Mental Health Month initiatives – how this all got started.
- The difference between mental illness and mental health.
- Simple ways you can improve mental health and practice gratitude each day.
What Is Mental Health Month?
In the 1900s a man named Clifford W. Beers was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and spent the next three years in mental institutions, witnessing deficiencies in the mental healthcare system, and horrific abuse of the mentally ill. Beers set out to change things.
Beers’ one-week campaign launched as Mental Health Week in 1949 and is now celebrated as a month-long campaign on mental health awareness every May. Mental Health Month is a national drive toward changing how we treat the mentally ill, how we handle our own mental wellness, how we address mental illness, and how to find the help you need. One core concept for Mental Health Month is how we can help reduce social stigmas on mental health issues.
Mental Health Facts
You may think that if you do not suffer from a mental illness, mental wellness is not of concern to you. Think again. Mental health issues affect nearly all of us in some way or another – and many people you deal with on a regular basis are struggling with mental health.
What Is Mental Illness?
Mental illnesses are, according to Psychiatry.org, any number of “diagnosable mental disorders” which create “significant changes in thinking, emotion and/or behavior” and “distress and/or problems functioning in social, work or family activities.” The CDC reports that nearly 20 percent of Americans will be diagnosed with a mental illness in a given year and that over 50 percent of Americans suffer from a mental illness of some type.
You do not have to have a mental illness to struggle with mental health issues. Mental health refers to all of the ways we process the world around us. Mental wellness is something that is not only important to our own health, but to our careers, relationships, and our sense of fulfillment and happiness.
Maintaining Your Best Mental Health
Thanks, in part, to initiatives like Mental Health Month, millions of Americans proudly work toward their best mental health, bravely changing the history of social stigma that surrounds unwellness of the mind. When we normalize mental wellness, we help people who have long suffered in silence to step forward, share their stories, and work on their own mental health without shame. This is something each of us can do, whether or not we have a diagnosed mental illness.
In short, mental wellness is for everyone. And it’s a lifestyle. It begins with how we take care of ourselves, how we love ourselves when we aren’t feeling mentally well, how we seek help when we need it, and how we practice gratitude each day that we wake up with breath in our lungs and hope in our hearts.
When we practice gratitude each day, we can start with all of the positive movements toward mental health awareness Beers started so long ago. Just think, mental health coverage used to be near nonexistent in most medical insurance plans – and now, many plans cover counseling services and more. Companies often get on board by offering mental health days, crisis hotlines, or peer support services.
But make no mistake here – to achieve your best mental health, you must start your own personal campaign for mental wellness. Here’s how you can prioritize your mental health, develop a daily practice of gratitude and positivity, and work on those things that create barriers to your own mental wellness.
Get the Support You Need to Improve Mental Health
Seek medical care and mental health care when you need it. We’ve made great strides in improving how we view mental wellness and mental illness as a society, but maybe you are still feeling shame about this. We encourage you to own your mental wellness with confidence and get the medical support you need! It’s no different than going to the doctor for a physical ailment that arises.
Tackle trauma with counseling. Mental health care professionals can address your overall health, including the health of your mind; help you develop healthy coping skills; help you tackle traumatic events and generate peace; and to learn to practice gratitude and positivity. Traumas can interfere with your daily life and keep your mind bogged down with pain. But thankfully, there are specialists out there who can help you learn to overcome these obstacles and live well in spite of them.
Find your support circle. These are the folks who get it. Trusted family members and friends who are supportive of mental health, understand your journey and offer you helpful love and support on your journey. Support groups can also help you feel less alone as you make this journey.
Take care of your body and mind.
- Get the exercise your body needs.
- Get the sleep you need each night to support your cognitive and emotional well-being.
- Consider mental health supportive activities like:
- Yoga, meditation, mindfulness.
- Spending time in nature.
- Gratitude journaling.
- Creative self-expressions like painting or writing.
- Eating a healthy diet and taking supportive supplements like CBD, Omega 3s, or vitamins.
- Curbing depressants and stimulants such as alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine.
- Cutting things from your life that do not serve your mental health.
Practice Gratitude and Mental Wellness – As a Lifestyle
When you get up each day and prioritize your own mental wellness, practice gratitude, and make lifestyle changes that support your new quest for wellness, you can cultivate a healthy mental wellness environment. This is the fertile ground for good things to grow. Like happiness. Like stability. Like creativity, curiosity, and thriving. And yes, with the supportive care you need, you can do these things in spite of being diagnosed with a mental illness.
Tips to Practice Gratitude Daily
- Feel valued.
- Minimize negative emotional patterns and behaviors.
- Minimize negative emotions and thinking patterns like worry.
- Rekindle curiosity, wonder, and awe about the world we live in.
But, how, exactly, does one begin practicing gratitude each day?
It may feel a little uncomfortable, at first, but practicing gratitude does not mean that there are no “bad things'' in your life. It simply means that you do not dwell on those things or get so wrapped up in them that you are no longer enjoying your life. In fact, some of the most challenging situations people find themselves in become inspirational stories for us all when one faces them with hope, determination, and gratitude.
Here are a few ideas to get you started.
- Keep a gratitude journal. (It’s good for your health!)
- Turn your language around. Instead of saying “I can’t do that,” try saying “I’ll give it my best shot!” Simple positive language changes can help to turn your focus hope-ward.
- Do gratitude exercises – make lists of things for which you are grateful. Ask yourself, “What’s the silver lining here?” in every situation that challenges you.
- Thank people. Sharing gratitude with others is uplifting!
Stay Informed with cbdMD
You can improve mental health, even if you have mental illness, though you may need some outside help from time to time (medical doctors and/or therapists). And this is totally fine!
If you want to improve your overall mental wellness, begin with a daily habit to practice gratitude, get started with your own wellness self-care campaign, and consider CBD as an option to help you feel more calm and confident on your journey to mental wellness.