Practising gratitude can help us stay positive and satisfied amid the hustle and bustle of family life. It isn’t about feeling grateful at every moment of every day – no one could be expected to do that! But there are real benefits to building gratitude practice into your family’s routine.
Studies have shown that counting our blessings increases optimism, relieves depression, improves immune function and lowers blood pressure.
People who practise gratitude can experience more positive emotions, sleep better, and express more compassion and kindness for themselves and others.
Practising gratitude can also strengthen our relationships with those around us.
With all that in mind, here are two easy gratitude practices to try as a family.
Start a gratitude journal
Every member of the family writes down at least three things they are grateful for each week in a shared journal. This activity can help train the brain to focus on the positive things in your life.
Our top tips:
• Keep the journal in a suitable place – one you will remember, and that kids can easily reach!
• Adding to the gratitude journal doesn’t have to take up a lot of time. You may simply list the things you are thankful for, or you may suddenly write in more detail, just go with what feels good for you.
• If you need inspiration, think about what you’ve done together today as a family and/or whether there’s a memory you would like to capture.
• Don’t have a set time for the gratitude journal. Each member of the family should write in your journal at whatever time feels good for them.
Start a gratitude jar
You will need the following:
• A jar or other container – the bigger your family, the bigger the jar, unless you would like one each.
• Ribbons and stickers – you could always start by decorating the jar as a family to make it eye-catching.
• Sticky notes.
This is the same principle as the gratitude journal. Each family member writes – or draws a picture of – three things they’re grateful for on a sticky note once a week, and pops the note into the jar.
As a rule, no critical notes are allowed. Even on challenging days, we look to find the positivity and something, however small, that we are grateful for. As the challenge continues, your gratitude jar will fill up with notes, becoming a tangible representation of the positive moments in your family’s life.
On New Year’s Day, gather together as a family and take turns reading out the gratitude notes from the jar. After each note, take a moment to discuss how it made you feel and why it is something you feel grateful for.
This can be a time to encourage meaningful conversations as a family and to notice how gratitude has made an impact on your lives.
If you’re feeling inspired to bring more positivity to your everyday routine, check out our guide to the easy ways to start enjoying exercise.
Words by Carlie Barlow