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The University of Southampton
Enabling ServicesPart of Student Services

Building Gratitude

Published: 12 June 2020
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Building gratitude into your daily life can improve your wellbeing

It may be starting to feel like we have been following social distancing for a long time and you may be beginning to feel deflated. Some people are grateful for the slower pace of life, while others are desperate to get back to normality. It is normal for everyone to respond differently and you may feel different from day to day. One thing that may help, especially on the harder days is to try to practice gratitude. Scientific research suggests that expressing true gratitude boosts your health and spreads happiness so is a great habit to start. A great example expressing gratitude is appreciating that we can now meet friends and family outside in a small group, something that we couldn’t even imagine a few weeks’ ago.

There are a number of ways you can start practicing building gratitude into your daily life.  You could start by simply finding three things to be grateful for each day and write them down before you go to bed.  This can be really simple things like ‘I made an excellent cuppa and really enjoyed it’ or ‘I really loved my walk today’.

You can also try to build gratitude by looking for the good in others and noticing the small things they do for you.  This is especially important if you are living with others as tensions may at times be running high.  In a group setting, such as with your family, building gratitude can strengthen relationships and increase prosocial behaviour.  It can be something as straightforward as telling them thanks and genuinely meaning it. 

Another technique to try which could be helpful if you find that you are feeling quite negative.  Every time you catch yourself complaining, add a 'Yes, and' onto the end to flip the negative thought into a positive thought.  For example "I am disappointed that my weekend away with friends was cancelled." Add in "Yes, and I'll take the time I was supposed to be away to take a break and explore my local area."  Thinking in this way can help us see the positives in what has been and still is a difficult time.

For more information on how to build gratitude, you may wish to watch this short LinkedIn Learning video- Focus on what’s good and build gratitude.

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