Updated: May 6
Appreciation is one of the best wellness tools you have to use. You may feel that gratitude, when you are suffering is a bit of a contradiction. Why would I be grateful for feeling so bad? Why would I appreciate not having all the things I want? Well, from a psychological stance, when you say and feel thankful, what happens is that you automatically start to focus your attention on what is working in your life instead of what isn't. By consciously bringing appreciation to mind, you start to create a cognitive shift that redirects our attention from worry and anxiety into peace and contentment.
Our thoughts are directly linked to our emotions, so by changing our thoughts, we change our emotions and our lives start to improve immensely. Expressing your appreciation does not mean denying your pain or internal suffering, but what it does do is helps you to recognise those areas of light that exist within the darkness, those points of hope, and healing.
Gratitude is an emotion and a powerful one at that! Like all other emotions, they are born from a thought, a positive and loving thought. As an emotion, gratitude is an acknowledgement-dependent state that results from a two-step cognitive process:
1. Recognising that one has obtained a positive outcome.
2. Recognising that there is an external source for this positive outcome. In the past few decades, mental health researchers have identified a connection between gratitude and good health. When we express gratitude and receive the same, our brain releases dopamine and serotonin, two important neurotransmitters responsible for making us feel good.
Thoughts become habits
A habit is a taught behaviour that is regularly repeated, to the point that it requires little or no thought in order to 'work'. By taught we mean that it is not something that naturally develops inside, the brain has to 'learn' it first. Our thoughts and actions can become habitual because our brain is conditioned to function in a repeated way, so in order for us to make appreciation a habit, we first need to teach the brain how to use it.
A habit is generally formed in 3 steps, first, it will identify a cue or a trigger which will signal the mind to go into automatic mode and which habit to use. Then there is the routine, this could be physical, mental, or emotional. Finally, there is a reward, which helps your brain figure out if this particular loop is worth remembering for the future. After a while, your brain will think that this is right and what you want, and so, the habit is born.
When you start to teach your brain to use appreciation as a habitual thought, you can begin to change your thoughts to positive and kind thoughts, which will then trigger positive emotional responses - resulting in an improved mood and greater wellness.
What is the Daily Appreci8?
Each day, you are encouraged to choose eight things that you are appreciative of and you do this consistently, every day for at least three weeks. Why? Well, as mentioned above gratitude is the fast track way to happiness and good health, and by turning appreciation into a habit, you will start to notice a shift in your mental health and the exterior world. Eight is the number that means #harmony, #peace, and #balance. It is a symbol of infinity and a constant flow of energy and power. Plus it fits in well with the word appreciate!
A general rule for implementing change is to stick with the new habit for three weeks. The reason for this is because it takes about 21 days to break or form a habit pattern. In truth, we are all very different and so the time scale does vary, but three weeks is a solid starting point for everyone.
You can either write down your daily appreci8, in fact, there is a power in writing feelings and thoughts down on paper, so we would recommend this above all. However, if you would prefer, you can simply recite them out loud or in your head, or you can record them on your phone or a dictaphone. It is up to you how you choose to express your gratitude.
Here are a few examples of things we appreci8 today:
NHS and Keyworkers
Of course, your list will be relevant to you and how you are feeling. This may feel unusual to you, to begin with, and for some even a little tough but stick with it until you catch your flow. Remember, anything that comes to mind is worth acknowledging, no matter how trivial your conscious may argue it to be. If you are grateful then express it.
Miranda Hart tweeted something that made us chuckle recently.
If anyone is on their own during lockdown then I declare that it is absolutely normal, and to be encouraged, when you find yourself talking to objects. I just said "thank you, you are really good at what you do" to the hoover.
Take the comedic element out (by the way, we appreci8 the humour) and what you have is a real sense of gratitude and a really basic level. A hoover is good at what it does and so it is only right to be thankful for having it there to do that very thing!
Have fun with this, don't pressurise yourself, if you can only think for a couple of things, then that's ok, pick it up again tomorrow. If today, you have more than eight, then great, the more the better!
Remember, appreciation is one of the best wellness tools you have to use. It is completely free and easy to utilise!