May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Mental health is inclusive of our emotional, psychological and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel and act and impacts all aspects of our lives. One factor to help improve and maintain a healthy mental state is through finding a more contented mindset.
As humans, we are wired to focus on the negative. It is meant to keep us safe from harm. But we can combat that human propensity by practicing a few techniques to keep a more contented mindset.
Gratitude – Studies show that practicing gratitude offers benefits in multiple areas of life: emotional, social, career, health, etc. It appears that the more grateful a person is, the more likely he or she is to enjoy better physical and psychological health. A very simple way to start a gratitude practice is the GLAD technique. Everyday, identify one that that you are Grateful for, something you Learned, an Accomplishment, and something which Delighted you. At first, it may be difficult, but with some practice you begin to notice that your mind starts searching for these positive factors so that you can record it later.
Savoring – This is the act of putting “stop and smell the roses” into a daily practice. When we are savoring a moment, we are attempting to fully feel, enjoy and extend that positive experience. To put it into practice, when you are feeling, experiencing or remembering something good, show it, tell it and share it. Show it by expressing it in your facial expressions and body language. Tell it by talking about it to someone and share it by offering the experience to others (if even through a post to social media).
Keep in mind that these things do not need to be big, grandiose accomplishments. In fact, being able to savor and be grateful for the small stuff can make a huge impact. As we train our minds in this way, we’ll also collect more and more positive memories and, in the long run, we will have a sense that our life is actually quite content. We might even start each day with a subtle sense of anticipation and wonder at what will come up during the day.
Kari Gregory is a Licensed Professional Counselor certified in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. She specializes in the treatment of Anxiety, OCD and related disorders. You can learn more about Kari here. .