Parent Magazine Volusia November 2019 - Page 19

DAILY EXPRESSIONS OF Gratitude CAN BOOST MENTAL HEALTH By Yuleisy Cardoso, M.A., MFT. I t’s not uncommon to express gratitude on a day like Thanksgiving, but what should happen if we practice expressions of gratitude everyday such as keeping a daily gratitude journal? Neuroscientists reveal there are lots of mental health benefits when we keep a daily gratitude journal, it helps us create a happier and healthier mental state. A center called Mindfulness Awareness Research Center based out of UCLA tells us that expressing gratitude on a daily basis changes the way we re-wire our brain. We are no longer creating brain cells and reinforcing neuropathways between those cells that make us behave and perceive our world like “Negative Nancies” or with the glass half-empty. Instead, our brain begins to create brain cells and reinforce connections between these cells that help us see our world in a more positive and rosie-colored way. Now we begin to behave, think and experience emotions like a “Positive Patty,” and we begin to perceive our world with the glass half-full, we are happier and healthier beings. You can find studies online and read how keeping a gratitude journal boosts mental health. A study conducted by Robert A. Emmons at the University of California and his colleague Mike McCullough at the University of Miami divided participants into three groups. One group was asked to keep a gratitude journal, the second group of participants was asked to keep a journal of things in their day that were bothering them, and the third group was asked to keep a daily journal that tracked neutral events, (neither good nor bad). After ten weeks of journaling, the group instructed to keep a gratitude journal reported feeling 25 percent happier than the other two groups. In another study conducted by the same researcher, Robert A. Emmons, participants were asked to complete gratitude exercises each day. These participants reported feeling more altruistic (self-less) towards others, offering others more emotional support as opposed to participants who did not practice gratitude exercises. An additional study was conducted in which participants were asked to keep a nightly gratitude journal whilst the other group was asked to not keep a nightly gratitude journal. The V O L U S I A parent M A G A Z I N E | 17