What is Gratitude?
Gratitude is a powerful thing when it comes to creating a holistic wellness program. As Psychology Today puts it, gratitude is “the expression of appreciation for what one has. It is a recognition of value independent of monetary worth. Spontaneously generated from within, it is an affirmation of goodness and warmth.”
In other words, gratitude is giving thanks, appreciation, respect, and acknowledgement for the good things in life. It can be practiced (much like yoga or eating whole foods) to improve physical, mental and emotional health.
Now is the Perfect Time for Reflection
As the days grow shorter and people reflect back on 2021, now is a perfect time to work with your clients to build gratitude exercises into their daily routine. Compounding research demonstrates that expressing gratitude every day creates an array of benefits that support overall well-being. Helping your clients foster a gratitude practice is one of the easiest ways to support them on their health journey.
Why Gratitude Works for Life Improvement
There is extensive research that exhibits the positive effects of gratitude. Studies on gratitude show that gratitude can increase feelings of health and happiness, as well as provide measurable impacts on sleep quality, lower blood pressure, stabilize blood sugar levels, and adopt healthier eating habits. Plus, regular gratitude exercises can also create lasting positive change in the brain. Science proves that the benefits of a short gratitude intervention may last up to at least 12 weeks.
How Does Gratitude Improve Client’s Lives?
Paired with your clients’ healthy eating habits and exercise routines, simple gratitude exercises will go a long way to establishing a more positive outlook in life. And there’s no more appropriate time to kick off a gratitude practice than Thanksgiving—the holiday where honoring goodness becomes the main intention. Here are our seven favorite ways to help your clients increase health and vitality through gratitude.
7 Ways Your Clients Can Establish a Gratitude Practice for Thanksgiving
1. Start a Gratitude Journal and Write Affirmations Daily
Keeping a journal is a simple and effective way to reap the benefits of a gratitude practice. Ask your clients to write down five things they are grateful for every day. This practice can lead to improved feelings of happiness, better relationships, better sleep, and so much more.
But how you keep a gratitude journal is important. The Greater Good Center at UC Berkeley offers recommendations to increase the impact of this exercise, like setting an intention of becoming more joyful, giving thanks for people rather than things, and writing specific details about what and who you are grateful for.
2. Share Appreciation with Loved Ones
Writing letters of gratitude to a loved one can have a powerful impact on feeling happier. Ask your client to write a letter to someone they love that expresses deep appreciation for them. They can write this letter to a parent, teacher, or friend expressing why that person means so much to them. Then, have them share the letter if possible.
3. Incorporate Gratitude in Meal Time
Your clients might be in the habit of giving thanks for their food at Thanksgiving dinner, but asking them to incorporate this practice into every meal can help them develop healthier eating habits overall.
If you are a nutrition coach, you can use gratitude exercises to support a lasting transformation in your clients’ relationship to food.
Gratitude can be embedded into a mindful eating practice to increase its benefits. Ask your clients to sit undistracted with their meal, giving thanks for the food and where it came from before consuming it. As they enjoy the meal, ask them to chew their food slowly and to savor each texture and flavor they experience.
4. Amplify Meditation with Gratitude
The benefits of meditation for health are well known: they include stress reduction, increased awareness of negative thought patterns, improved personal connection, better sleep, and chronic pain reduction.
Did you know that your clients can infuse a meditation with gratitude, combining the benefits of the two practices? Have your clients try this meditation for gratitude and joy from Jack Kornfield and check in with them to see how the practice made them feel.
5. Take a Gratitude-Infused Walk in Nature
Seemingly mundane activities, like taking a walk around the block, can turn into opportunities for your clients to give thanks. Evidence shows that spending time in nature can lead to a long list of mental and physical health benefits, including reduced depression and anxiety, improved immune function, decreased obesity and diabetes, and much more. Pairing time in nature with gratitude in what researchers call “a savoring walk” has been shown to increase feelings of happiness.
To try a gratitude-infused savoring walk, ask your clients to put aside 10 to 20 minutes per day to walk intentionally outside. During this walk, researchers suggest shutting down devices and tuning into your surroundings. Ask your clients to acknowledge each of their five senses and the positive feelings that arise when they notice pleasant sensations, like the sound of birds chirping, children playing in the grass, or the scent of fresh, crisp air.
6. Express Gratitude in Self-Talk
Asking your clients to express gratitude toward their body can help them reframe their body image. Experts suggest that using positive words to speak to the body, and referring to it as a separate self, can reshape critical or judgmental feelings. A positive body image supports improved quality of life and is a major factor in developing long-lasting health habits.
Ask your clients to take a few moments each day to thank their body for supporting them. They can express gratitude for things like having the energy to get out of bed and head into work, the ability to walk, laugh and run, and for helping them turn their food into energy.
7. Bookend the Day with Expressions of Gratitude
Jumpstarting the day with a verbal gratitude list can help your clients embrace life with enthusiasm, joy, and optimism. Invite them to try this simple practice:
Before they get out of bed (and before turning on their phone or checking email!) ask them to say outloud three things they’re grateful for.
At the end of the day, ask your client to reflect on what they were grateful for throughout the day. End-of-day gratitude exercises help release tension and promote a positive mindset to encourage better sleep.
Working with your clients to develop a gratitude practice is transformationally powerful stuff. It can help them achieve their health goals through physical, mental and emotional reframing. Speak with your clients about the gratitude exercises above and find out which resonate most, keeping in mind what works for one person may not work for another.
Bottom line: a little gratitude goes a long way!
Learn How to Manifest Your Life and Create Gratitude as a Health Coach
Health coaches have a great understanding of how to create the life they desire. That aptitude is part of what sets great coaches apart from good coaches. At Health Coach Institute, our team can help you become the best version of yourself. Aspiring coaches should check out our Become a Health Coach Program to schedule a consultation with an HCI team member. If you are currently a coach, our Master level program may be just right for you!