Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. You can read my full disclosure here.
Have you been curious about what a “gratitude routine” is? Or why so many people include mindful gratitude in their daily routine?
Having a gratitude routine is one of the easiest ways to improve your mind and health. No, being grateful will not cure your flu, make you lose 20lbs or instantly make you happy 24/7. It can help with some of those things though.
First, let’s talk about the proven benefits of expressing gratitude. Then, we will talk about exactly how to incorporate gratitude into your daily life, and finally, I will go over why it is such a benefit to your children to include gratitude in their day.
So, about these proven benefits.
There has been an increase in popularity of gratitude rituals & routines, and in turn gratitude journals, exercises and books. Because of this, more and more studies are being done on the physical and psychological effects of feeling & expressing gratitude.
Here are some of the most notable outcomes of these studies;
- contributes to decreased levels of depression, anxiety, envy & burnout
- fewer symptoms of physical illness
- enhances social connectedness
- lowers levels of fatigue
- improves sleep
- can reduce impatience of receiving (especially when related to money)
- can support cardiac health
Feeling and showing gratitude has been shown to improve mood overall, which in turn leads to a more positive mindset. Focusing on what you have vs. what you don’t is an easy way to start to raise your mindset and cultivate an abundance mindset, which will in turn lead to more gratitude and openness. It’s a great cycle to get in, and a gratitude routine is the perfect way in.
According to Brené Brown, an active gratitude routine is the one thing that that makes the difference between whole-hearted people and those who are not. (Daring Greatly)
Starting a gratitude routine
The easiest way to start a gratitude routine, is to just make time for it. Chunk out a specific amount of time in your day to sit down and just be grateful.
Many people pick the moments just before bed to incorporate their gratitude routine. I am of the thought that this is the perfect time to do it. It gives you a chance to go back through your day and really focus on and feel the emotions surrounding the things you are grateful for that day. Everything is fresh in your mind and you can remember more clearly how you felt at the time.
It’s also a great way to unwind, especially if you are utilizing a gratitude journal, and it can help you sort through any unresolved thoughts. Similar to a daily debrief for your brain.
Focusing on gratitude right before bed also allows you to rest easier, sleep more easily and deeply, and calm your thoughts and body.
A couple of ways to execute your gratitude routine include speaking or writing a set number of things you are grateful for.
I recommend at least 3, and to go into some detail about why you are grateful for these things. The more you feel your gratitude, the more positive results you will have.
Some gratitude journals have daily prompts. Questions for you to answer to help you dig in to your thoughts and feelings of gratitude. These are great if you have never done any focused emotional work like this, or if you want to dig deeper into the benefits of gratitude.
They are also helpful for days when you just don’t feel like being thankful. Side note: those are the days you should absolutely, definitely, 100% make a point to sit down and focus on your gratitude.
Eventually, you may find that you can write out your own prompts for those days.
Why you should start getting your children into a gratitude routine.
The obvious answer, is for all of the same reasons you should start one yourself. Better sleep, better mood, less impatience. (Less “gimme-gimme’s” more “thank-you’s“) Along with all of that though, some of the other proven benefits of practicing gratitude are especially beneficial for children and their development. Such as, helping with improving self-esteem, reducing aggression and enhancing empathy.
Of course, depending on your child’s age, they may or may not yet grasp what gratitude is exactly. However, starting early with some variation of a gratitude routine can be incredibly helpful in establishing the habit, and will still have similar benefits to practicing gratitude itself.
My son is 4, and while he knows and uses the words “thank you”, he doesn’t quite understand being thankful or grateful for something just yet. At least, he can’t pull out the feeling that comes with it. To a four year old feelings are simply, happy, sad, excited, angry, etc. The basic feelings. So for his gratitude routine, we talk about the things he did, received, or encountered through the day that he liked best. Every day he tells me 3 things that made him happy that day. This is also something that we do when he is getting worked up or angry. We have a deep breath to calm down and he tells me three things that have made him happy so far that day. It really helps with tantrums, and keeps he situation from elevating on either side.
Having gratitude time as part of your child’s bedtime routine
makes it easy to fit in to your day. It also allows them the chance to practice reflecting on their day, which can lead to being more intentional. Focusing on the things that made them happy and grateful can also lead to deeper sleep, and/or happier dreams. Both of which start them on a better path in the morning. Another great thing to add to their bedtime routine is affirmations.
Overall, gratitude practice is something that is beneficial to everyone, and can become a core practice of your day. Once you get into a good habit of gratitude at a certain time daily, you can expand to start focusing more on being intentional with in-the-moment gratitude.