Hygienic Practices for Your Mental Health: Gratitude
Now that Mental Health Awareness Month has passed, what are you doing for your mental health? How about incorporating gratitude into your day? Think of it as your mental health hygiene. Why call it hygiene? That’s what I said when God dropped that word in my spirit. Let’s look at the definition and it will make more sense. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), "Hygiene refers to conditions and practices that help to maintain health and prevent the spread of diseases."
While chronic and persistent mental illness is real, not everyone is going through a crisis or suffering from a diagnosable mental illness. However, we can all benefit from practices that contribute to our mental wellbeing and help prevent us from spiraling into a dark place or from staying there for extended periods of time. Just as we brush our teeth, wash our hands, eat healthy food and exercise to maintain our physical health, we should do the same for our mental health.
Take gratitude for instance. Taking time to acknowledge what you are grateful for is a powerful and simple thing to do. It has been linked to the reduction of toxic emotions, aggression, and depressive symptoms. Gratitude has also been shown to improve sleep, feelings of happiness, the quality of our relationships, and enhance our ability to cope in challenging times. But how often do we look past what we could be thankful for and fall into complaining instead.
Like water, many of us fail to drink the daily recommended amounts even though we know how integral it is to our physical health. That’s why I appreciate the various challenges and daily reminders to get that water in. Likewise, my intention is to encourage gratitude and many other practices that make for good mental health hygiene!
Let’s begin cultivating gratitude today. Set a timer for 60 seconds and simply list as many things as you can that you are grateful for. It can be something seemingly insignificant like your morning cup of coffee or tea. Nothing is too small to make an impact so write what comes to mind. Take a moment to notice how you feel after a minute of gratitude.
Another practice to incorporate into your bedtime routine is to contemplate all the good things you’ve experienced throughout the day. Write it down if you can or fall asleep counting your blessings instead of sheep, your disappointments or worries of tomorrow.
Remember, consistency is key! We brush our teeth daily. Let’s practice good mental health hygiene daily!