If you’ve been working on developing a gratitude practice, you know it can be a challenge when things in your life aren’t going well. Maybe you’re just going through some mild depression, you got laid off from your job, or you’ve got a serious health problem. Whatever hard thing you’re going through, it can make you wonder how to be grateful when things are tough.
Ironically enough, gratitude is the very thing that has the potential to pull you out of the funk. By clinging even more tightly to thoughts and feelings of gratefulness, you can better handle the challenges you’re facing.
Of course, that’s easier said than done, right? You might have just sighed and thought, “But how do I do that when I feel this way?” That’s a pretty normal reaction. It’s really easy to feel grateful when things are going well and you’re feeling great. It’s a whole lot harder when the loudest things in your life make you feel sad and depressed.
Tough Times Gratitude
If you’re ready to start feeling a little gratitude again or you’re a practicing wellness coach that wants to help clients who are struggling, here are a few tips to pull you out of the fog and back into the bliss
Keep It Simple
When things feel overwhelming, don’t try to push yourself to feel gratitude for big things. That might feel fake or just plain too hard right now. Instead, quiet your mind and find something small to focus your gratitude on. The easiest things might be physical and in the moment.
Focus on your breath, giving thanks that your body is keeping you alive. Say thanks to your eyes and ears. Reach over and grab your favorite soft blanket, then feel gratitude for how gently it hugs you. Notice your pet or a potted plant, then give them thanks for bringing life and joy into your life and home.
Keep it simple and focus on the basics for now. If that’s all you can do, that’s enough.
Do Something You Are Good At Doing
You might not be up for doing something you love, especially when you’re in the darkest depths of despair. But you can boost your mood just a tiny bit by making yourself do something you’re good at doing. Keep it to something you can do easily so that you’ll be able to convince yourself to do it.
Maybe you’re great folding laundry, organizing your desk, or gardening. Get your body up and moving with an activity that will boost your feeling of self-worth. This will do wonders for your ability to feel gratitude again. No task is too small, so do whatever comes to mind.
Get Lost in Helping Someone Else
While our lives sometimes feel tragic, there is always someone else out there experiencing something harder. You probably know of a neighbor, friend, or family member who is going through something really hard. Maybe they’ve just had surgery, lost their spouse, or found out they don’t have long to live.
Make them some food, clean their house, or just sit and listen to them talk. It will pull you out of your own head and help you connect with someone you care about. The very act of helping someone else will allow you to feel a little more grateful once again.
Journal Your Way to Gratitude
Sometimes we just need to get our feelings out. Journaling is an excellent way to help you sort through your feelings and get to the bottom of what’s really bothering you. Sure, you can do the standard activity of listing everything you’re grateful for. If that helps, do it.
Another thing you can do is have a conversation with yourself through your journal. Everyone has an optimist voice in their head and an inner critic. Start off by writing down something positive you want to create in your life. Then let your inner critic have a turn and write that down next to it. Try again with the positive angle, then giving the critic a turn. At some point in your written inner conversation, your critic will run out of excuses, allowing you to move on to positivity.
This could look something like: “Sure I lost my job, but I’m smart and skilled and will find a new one.” Then, “But what if no one is hiring?” And then, “There are lots of organizations that need someone like me and the economy is going strong. I will find the right one that’s perfect for what I’m good at doing.” Let your positivity and gratitude win out without repressing critical thoughts. Let it out, then move on.
Learn to Keep Moving
It’s easy to get stuck in a slump if we let ourselves. But it’s important to grieve for what we’ve lost. Take a couple days to mourn and feel sad for yourself, if that’s what you need. Don’t feel guilty for your sad feelings and recognize that they’re part of being human.
Once you’ve allowed yourself to feel sad, pick yourself up and decide it’s time to create some momentum again. Maybe you’ve really had a hard time feeling gratitude during your sad time. That’s okay. Once it’s over, get up and start back at your gratitude practice. Get moving and start creating again. You’ll need to push yourself a bit to get through, but that’s okay. Just do it.
Finding Peace Again
A gratitude practice deepens our feelings of peace and joy. It’s okay to feel anger and sadness for short periods of time while we mourn and grieve for something we’re giving up. But stay committed to moving through those emotions so you can get back to peace again.
Make sure to consistently practice gratitude when times are easy so you will have an easier time getting back to it when times are tough. Always make a point to feel grateful for what you have right now. You’ll be able to tap into that practice more easily when things are hard since it will already be a daily habit.
If you’re helping someone who is going through a tough time, perhaps as a wellness coach, be patient with them, respect their need to feel all their feelings, then gently guide them back into a gratitude practice so they can return to a life of peacefulness.