We are living through “unprecedented” times. 

In addition to depressing news shared each day relative to the global coronavirus outbreak, Black people are being mercilessly killed by overt racism and prejudice for simple luxuries such as running or breathing. This is all in addition to the stress and grind of work and day-to-day life. And baby, we are tired.

During a pandemic — or any time for that matter — it can be easy to forget all of life’s blessings and show your appreciation for what you do have. Especially when people that look like us are suffering each day.

But lack of positivity can wreak havoc on your mental and emotional wellbeing — eventually leading to more turmoil. So when you’re struggling to stay positive, it’s important to remember that a life well lived is one of gratitude and thankfulness. To help  improve your outlook, Talkspace Therapist Ashley Ertel, LCSW, BCD offers 7 ways to have more gratitude in your daily life. 

Try getting into a gratitude routine.

Gratitude is a skill, and it’s something that you have to practice in order to make it a regular habit. Research has shown that the more we appreciate, the happier we are. But finding time to feel gratitude is a challenging thing. “Being intentional rather than reactive can set you up for success when times are especially hard,” says Ertel. “Try using a gratitude journal (or really just a note in your phone if that is what you have available) where you write down at least 1 thing during the day you are thankful for. Eventually, it gets easier—especially if it is a habit.”

An act of kindness.

The world needs more gratitude and kindness — especially now. When you’re being kind to others, you’re not the only one who’s giving away something. In fact, you are getting a lot, if not more, in return. According to Ertel, “Even a small gesture like sending a funny gif to brighten someone else’s day can boomerang back in a positive way.”

Connect with nature. 

There’s something special about being outdoors and connecting with Mother Nature. Not to mention, being in nature helps reduce stress, anxiety, and worry while increasing our ability to focus. So it’s only right that this should be part of our gratitude practice. Ertel says it’s as simple as “going on a walk or a jog or sitting by a lake.” Really anything outside can help shift energy and connect to something outside our own mind.

Find opportunity.

There’s opportunity everywhere — you just have to be open to finding it. Ertel reads her son the book, What to Do with a Problem, and it ends with the statement that “each problem is an opportunity.” “Is there another way to see your problem?” she asks.

Positive affirmations. 

If you’re familiar with the “Law of Attraction” then you know that life responds to what you pay attention to. So the more you say it, the more you speak life into existence. Ertel suggests, “Strategically placing affirmations around your home, car, or in your phone can be great pick-me-ups.”

Meditative reflection. 

“This can be powerful when conjuring up gratitude is difficult,” says Ertel. “Utilize an expert online to help guide you to a better place. My favorite meditation has been the Self-Compassion Meditation.”

Avoid unnecessary negativity. 

Honey, this is probably the most important thing to recognize. Negative or unwanted thoughts (and people) can prevent you from enjoying experiences, distract you from focusing on what’s important, and drain your energy. “Avoid negative people, places, and things as much as possible,” says Ertel.” No news reports and spending hours scrolling through various reports on updated COVID-19 numbers. This only serves to further your compassion fatigue and makes it more difficult to connect with things you love and hold dear.”

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