Gratitude – A Self-Care Tool

Practicing gratitude in your every day life

Gratitude is a game changer.  With Gratitude, you can change your life without actually changing anything (except your perspective). A few weeks ago I wrote a post about my favorite self-care ideas and realized that it would be helpful to take a deeper dive into a few of those ideas, like gratitude. 

Here are my thoughts on why gratitude is so  important and some concrete tips on how to start practicing it in your daily  life. 

Why is gratitude important? I’ll leave that to the experts to explain—here are a few links to articles that share the whys behind practicing gratitude.

A wise friend once shared that it is what you focus on that grows. With gratitude, the things you stop and recognize and share gratitude for, those things will grow.

My Personal Journey with Gratitude

I was raised to show gratitude—no matter the gift there needed to be a thank you.  I also am an eternal optimist, so seeing things from an angle of gratitude has generally come naturally.

But as an adult, man, it’s a lot harder to keep that perspective.  People around me always seem to have what I want—a nicer car, bigger house, more exciting vacations.  And it became easier to forget to be grateful for what I have.

Then, during a time in my life when I wasn’t feeling super grateful, I read this post. And, just like that, it made me explode back into a gratitude girl.  After reading it, I actually made my work team read it as well…and forced them (willingly) to go on a gratitude walk with me.  It was one of the most memorable team meetings we ever had.  And since then, I’ve focused on keeping gratitude as an important part of my life, and an integral part of my own self-care.

Here are 5 Tips & Ideas for incorporating gratitude into your life:

1. Make it a Challenge or a Time-Limited Exercise

There are all sorts of cool gratitude challenges out there—lasting 30 days or even 365. Only commit to one week? It’s ok!  Whatever you can commit to for starters, just give it a try.  At work, I made it a competition within our team to do a photography gratitude challenge.

Need an extra push? Here are some links to various gratitude challenges"

We also do a gratitude tree every November as a family. Trying to teach my boys early the importance of gratitude, we write one thing we are grateful for each day and add them to the “tree”.

2. Build it into Something You Do with Others

Try something with a group like the above mentioned gratitude walk.  Not sure what a gratitude walk is? How we did it was that we each had to find something on our walk that reminded us of something we were grateful for—a rock, flowers, a leaf,

Not sure what a gratitude walk is? How we did it was that we each had to find something on our walk that reminded us of something we were grateful for—a rock, flowers, a leaf, pine cone, branch, you name it.  Then we shared with each other what we found and what we were grateful for. 

Doing something like this with others who you are regularly in contact with can also help with holding each other accountable.

3. Write a Reverse Bucket List

I first came across this idea here. I did my own one evening a few months ago and ended up teary eyed with gratitude for my life. So take 20 minutes, dig deep, and reflect on your life from a place of gratitude.

4. Integrate Gratitude into Something You Already Do Daily.

Maybe it’s while you brush your teeth, or maybe it’s part of your nightly dinner conversation, or maybe you start your day in the shower by coming up with 3 things you are grateful for each morning.  You decide. 

For me, gratitude is part of the nightly bedtime routine with my kids, as part of our prayers.  We always start off our prayer with thanking God for the things we were grateful for during the day.

5. Surround Yourself with Positive Quotes and Messages

Put a few quotes up around your house or work that inspire gratitude in you and remind you of the control you have.

My supervisor actually shared this one with me recently and so now it’s posted up near my computer at work.


When I’m having a rough day/week, it’s a gentle reminder to put back on my “perspectacles” and see if there is something besides the bad that I could be focusing on.


There you have it—a deeper dive into Gratitude!

How do you practice gratitude?  Let me know if you try and of the above ideas and how it goes for you!  Share your ideas in the comments so we can learn from one another.




About Rachel

Rachel, MSW is a licensed Advanced Practice Social Worker and has been working in the area of child welfare for over 10 years. She is the founder of, a website/blog with the goal of creating a positive community for social workers to gather, connect, and inspire one another. Rachel is also a proud mama, and is always on the lookout for ways to improve her own self-care as well as encouraging those around her to do the same.

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