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  • Kate Mihevc Edwards PT, DPT

Why Should Athletes Practice Gratitude?

Updated: Jan 27, 2022

Gratitude is defined as appreciating what we have rather than worrying about what we lack. Even if it appears to be simple, gratitude requires purpose and effort. It is a positive sensation that encompasses being glad and grateful, and it has been connected to a number of mental and and physical health benefits. Athletes often beat themselves up, but rarely recognize the incredible body that helps them achieve their goals. Learning to be grateful for our body that allows us to be athletes is not only important, it's necessary.

Gratitude has many benefits. It can help us see the positives in difficult situations. It been known to help strengthen relationships. I practice gratitude every day before meditation. I choose ten things I'm grateful for, which can range from a warm cup of coffee, my heart beating, my legs carrying me to where I want to go, to the sound of birds or even my son's laughter. Those are just a few things for which I am grateful for, but there are countless things for which we might be grateful all around us. Because, to be honest, it's the little things in life that make it amazing.

Gratitude has been researched a lot over the last few years. It has been shown to improve your general well-being, from improved relationships to better sleep.

Benefits of gratitude:

1. Gratitude makes us happier.- When we express gratitude, it makes us feel better. It's a never-ending circle. Positive thoughts and emotions impact the nervous system, helps us to recover better and avoid depressive feeling when we do get injured.

2. Gratitude makes us healthier. Gratitude has been shown to lessen pain, improve health, enhance exercise and decrease perceived exertion. It helps us sleep for longer periods of time, improve the quality of your sleep, reduce your blood pressure and boost your energy.

3 .Gratitude increases self-esteem. Improved self esteem leads to better relationships, positive thoughts, confidence and perserverence.

4 .Gratitude increases your productivity- Stress and anxiety can consume much of a person's mental resources. Those who are self-assured, on the other hand, can be more productive since they are able devote more of their attention and focus to their work. This occurs on both a conscious and subconscious level — we may become intellectually distracted by our anxieties, or elements of our subconscious mind may expend energy suppressing negative information and concerns. Because gratitude has been demonstrated to boost self-esteem and lessen insecurity, it can aid us in focusing and increasing productivity. It can also help us focus during training or in a race because we are less likely to ruminate on negative thoughts.

The benefits of gratitude listed above are just a few, but there are many more that we may not be aware of. Gratitude is not a cure, but it is a powerful tool for increasing life happiness, productivity and performance. Gratitude allows us to live in a world of abundance rather than lack and who doesn't want that.

How to practice Gratitude:

There are many ways to practice gratitude in your life. Start by noticing and appreciating the small things in your life - such as the smell and warmth of a good cup of coffee or how good it feels to have a comfortable pair of socks on your feet. You can also begin by paying attention to the people you see everyday - say thank you for the little things they do that maybe you never noticed before. Recently I realized that my husband always fills my car up with gas and changes all the batteries in the fire detectors. The more I tune into gratitude the more I notice and appreciate him so much. Here are a few more ideas to get you started.

1. Keep a gratitude Journal: You can choose to make a list of all the things you are grateful for every day. I like to do this because sometimes I look back and am able to look back and smile about all the good I have in my life

2. Everyday pick a person to be grateful for. Take a moment and think about all the small ways that person contributes to your life. Make sure you tell them and see how it makes you feel.

3. Gratitude Jar: This is a fun thing to do for families. Each person writes what they are grateful for that day, reads them outloud and puts them in a jar. It's satisfying and a great reminder to watch the jar fill up. You can also take out the pieces and read them together if you want/need to.

There is no better day to start your gratitude practice and see how it can change your perspective. If you need help you can sign up for the self-guided 30 days of Gratitude. It will be launching soon, but you can sign up now!

xo Kate


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