Research has found that gratitude has many wide-ranging benefits. These include better mood, better physical health, better self-esteem, better sleep, and more resilience in the face of adversity. [https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/giving-thanks-can-make-you-happier] Studies show that many of these positive outcomes are mediated by yet another benefit: better relationships. Strong relationships are the foundation of a strong recovery. Self-esteem, resilience, sleep, and health are pretty good for recovery, too. However, cultivating feelings of gratitude during recovery can be hard, especially early on. Most people enter treatment at a low point in their lives and they may not feel like they have a lot of be grateful for. Nevertheless, gratitude can make you happier and strengthen your recovery, so here are some ways to experience more gratitude in addiction recovery.
Keep a gratitude journal.
The first way to feel more grateful is to periodically write down a few things you feel grateful for. You can do this every day or every week. In one study, psychologists Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough asked participants to write a few sentences once a week. [https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/giving-thanks-can-make-you-happier] One group was asked to write about things they were grateful for that had occurred that week. Another group was asked to write about things that had annoyed or displeased them and the last group was asked to write about events that had affected them, but the researchers didn’t specify whether the events should be good of bad. After 10 weeks, the group that had written about things they were grateful for each week were more optimistic and felt better about their lives. What’s more, they also exercised more and made fewer visits to the doctor than the group that had written about things that irritated them. The simple act of bringing your attention to the positive aspects of your life, even if they seem small, can have a profound effect on your attitude.
Write a gratitude letter.
The second way of increasing your feelings of gratitude is to write a gratitude letter. Think of something someone else has done for you that you appreciated but never properly thanked that person for. Write down what they did and what it meant to you. Then, if you want to, deliver the letter—ideally, in person. Positive psychology pioneer Martin Seligman says this is the most powerful way to boost gratitude and the benefits of delivering just one letter can last more than a month. [https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/giving-thanks-can-make-you-happier] Another study examined the effects of gratitude letters on 300 people who reported below average mental health, primarily due to depression or anxiety. [https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/how_gratitude_changes_you_and_your_brain] All three groups received counseling, but one group wrote one letter of gratitude to a different person each week for three weeks. A second group wrote about negative experiences, and a third group didn’t write at all and only received counseling. The group that wrote letters reported better mental health after three months, suggesting that writing a gratitude letter can be a powerful addition to regular therapy.
At Fort, we offer a safe, nurturing, and healing space for men and women to find recovery from the multifaceted disease of addiction. Our team believes in inspiring each client to face their challenges, discover the root of their problems, and reclaim their lives. If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, call us today at 817-381-9741 or contact us through our admissions page.