Around the fall we often begin to reflect on our year, and how quickly it has gone by. We approach Thanksgiving and are prompted to recall our blessings, and this grows throughout the holiday season. In my practice, gratitude is not seasonal, but an intentional way of maintaining your mental health.
When utilizing a strengths-based focus, embracing gratitude in counseling tends to serve as a conduit for positive thinking. Although it may seem simple, when experiencing difficulties, it is easy to dwell on the negative. This narrow focus can empower negativity and only perpetuate our problems. We don't need to wait for something horrible to happen to try this practice; actually, gratitude is less fruitful with a flippant focus.
Once you have decided to embark on your path towards gratitude, you must remember exactly that, it is your own path. I encourage creativity and personalization to craft an intentional reflective practice that honors and embraces your individuality, goals, and purpose. Personally, I have enjoyed using these prompts to structure my journaling, set intentionality for my yoga practice, and calm my nerves before an interview, decompress from a difficult clinical session.
If you choose, you can walk this path throughout your lifetime. An in-depth focus on gratitude can certainly be transformative; however, with a consistent application I have seen my students and clients transform faulty thinking and negativity through seemingly tiny tasks of thankfulness.
Even if a long-term practice in gratitude is an aspiration of yours, when you begin intentional and consistent small steps can be helpful. You can begin this adventure by incorporating daily doses of gratitude to assist in improving your mood, perspective, and overall mental health.
Shainna Ali is a counselor educator and owner of Integrated Counseling Solutions in Central Florida. Dr. Ali is passionate about highlighting the importance of mental health awareness, assessment, and care in living a happy and healthy life. Her areas of focus in research and practice include identity and culture, emotional intelligence, trauma, and creativity in counseling. For more information on Dr. Ali please visit IntegratedCounselingSolutions.com