Gratitude can seem so simple when our lives are on track, but difficult when things are not going well. However, studies have shown over and over again that maintaining a foundation of gratitude is one of the key ingredients to a long, healthy, and fulfilling life.
For senior citizens transitioning into a new life stage where they might be less independent than they once were, cultivating an attitude of gratitude will make a striking difference in their quality of life.
Gratitude isn’t about ignoring bad things
Many people believe being grateful often ignores the negative feelings that spiral in our lives. However, that is simply not the case. Gratitude is about noticing that there is always some positive things in your life, no matter how gloomy things may seem. Being aware of surrounding positivity offers a different perspective.
Being grateful does wonders for one’s health. Many seniors experience chronic illness, pain, insomnia, and feelings of depression. Practicing gratitude leads to better sleep, less depression, and helps with chronic illness. Gratitude is shown to reduce headaches, eases pain, and is a healthy way to cope with stress. Grateful seniors are more likely to exercise constantly and choose healthier foods and lifestyle habits.
Practicing gratitude is shown to improve social connections and reinforces current relationships. People with a habit of being grateful look for good in others, instead of focusing on negative attributes they may have. Seniors often feel less isolated when practicing gratitude because they find it easier to be positive and around others. Positive seniors often look for ways to socially interact and be a part of a community.
Expands Life’s Meaning
Many seniors have a difficult time understanding their purpose for their lives after retirement. Cultivating gratitude helps a senior view the bigger picture. By choosing to be grateful for little things, they gain a sense of their own life’s purpose. Seniors are able to reflect on their hard work raising a family and watching their families grow up. Additionally, they are able to enjoy their past achievements and fond memories.
Strategies For Gratefulness
- Thankful breathing. Settle into a quiet, relaxing location, close your eyes, and take ten deep, cleansing breaths. While you exhale each breath, think of an easy phrase of gratitude, such as “thank you.” This technique helps reduce heart rate and blood pressure, soothing both mind and body.
- Gratitude Journaling. As a daily practice, list a few things that you are thankful for, and document them in a journal. These things can be large or even as small as a cup of tea or the sunny weather outside.
- Engaging sensory input. Find a focal point that activates each one of your senses, and make time to appreciate each one. Move outside to feel and smell the fresh, brisk air of fall. Enjoy a bite of warm apple pie. Gaze at the morning sunrise. Turn on a popular song and sing along.
Gratitude reminds us of what is truly important in life and to not take the smallest things for granted. Seniors have accomplished so much in their lives and through gratitude are able to enjoy them and the people in their lives. By practicing gratitude, we are able to reflect on things that matter, such as our families and loved ones, and place our energy on things that bring us joy. Being grateful also helps us build up the habit of seeing good around us, which helps with symptoms of depression and anxiety. A gratitude practice is a simple lifestyle change that can make a large difference.