May 24, 2023 By Leah Malone

How Gratitude Fuels Healing


There is no question that the symptoms of substance use disorder (SUD), unresolved trauma, and other mental health disorders can be quite distressing. In recovery, women must learn to effectively navigate these symptoms by incorporating a variety of healing tools into daily practice. While meditation and mindfulness are often encouraged, gratitude is another deliberate mindfulness practice that can be essential for healing. Gratitude fuels a sense of peace, appreciation, and kindness, solidifying its status as a valuable practice for women in recovery.

Grace Recovery provides a variety of recovery resources for women seeking to further their healing journey. Working closely with Emerge Recovery, Grace Recovery connects clients with a range of outpatient treatment programs in addition to providing transitional living homes, experiential recovery coaching, and more. By working with Grace, women can gain a deeper understanding of how gratitude fuels healing, empowerment, and lasting recovery.

What Is Gratitude?

According to the journal Psychiatry, [G]ratitude is the appreciation of what is valuable and meaningful to oneself; it is a general state of thankfulness and/or appreciation.” It is both an emotion and a practice that requires a person to acknowledge the good in their life. As a practice, gratitude can increase an individual’s self-awareness and ability to notice circumstances and situations worth being grateful for.

Despite the inevitable hardships in life that surface from time to time, there is always something to be grateful for. However, symptoms of past trauma, substance abuse, and other mental health issues can often cloud an individual’s perspective. By learning how to implement gratitude practices into recovery, a person will be able to achieve and sustain a more positive outlook and many more benefits that promote lasting healing.

The Impact of Gratitude on Well-Being and Recovery

Gratitude has been well-researched for its numerous health benefits. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), “Experiencing gratitude, thankfulness, and appreciation tends to foster positive feelings, which in turn contributes to one’s overall sense of well-being.” Some specific examples of gratitude’s impact on well-being include the following.

Gratitude Fuels Stress Reduction

One of the many benefits of gratitude for addiction and mental health recovery is that it fuels stress reduction. According to a publication titled “Practicing Gratitude” by NIH News in Health, “Taking the time to feel gratitude may improve your emotional well-being by helping you cope with stress.” Through the repetition of shifting intrusive or negative thoughts to positive ones, a person can reduce and minimize personal feelings of stress. Meanwhile, because gratitude is a mindfulness practice, it encourages a person to focus on the present moment rather than ruminating on stressful thoughts from the past or future.

Gratitude Fuels Joy

In addition to reducing stress, gratitude can also fuel joy. Focusing on the positive is not some kind of brain trick; rather, it directly induces feelings of contentment and happiness. As a person becomes more aware of the things they are grateful for, they may feel motivated to carry out increased acts of kindness and generosity. In turn, acts of gratitude can further increase a sense of well-being and life satisfaction.

Gratitude Fuels Sobriety

A plethora of research confirms the role that gratitude often plays in facilitating sustainable addiction recovery. An article from the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment highlights that as an individual’s life improves with recovery, they will recognize and appreciate their personal improvement and healing. Thus, gratitude is often a natural result of the addiction recovery process.

The article also sheds light on two possibilities for understanding the reverse association, that being how gratitude can potentially sustain addiction recovery. First, gratitude practices help to promote a positive mood, countering any negative attitudes that may be present in early recovery. This can help a person be more optimistic about their recovery efforts and encourage them to persevere. Second, gratitude may arise as a result of embracing a connection to a recovery community that provides a sense of connection and hope.

Gratitude Fuels a Deeper Sense of Purpose

As a result of the additional benefits listed above, gratitude can fuel a deeper sense of purpose and meaning in an individual’s life. Addiction and mental health disorders can interfere with an individual’s ability to identify and acknowledge meaning in their life. This can in turn worsen feelings of depression, isolation, and worthlessness. By practicing gratitude daily, individuals can relish more positive experiences and build stronger relationships with others. Additionally, gratitude can also foster greater faith and hope for well-being, which can all fuel greater meaning in a person’s life.

Fostering Gratitude in Addiction Recovery

Gratitude can allow individuals to foster greater self-control and peace throughout their healing journey by prioritizing positive and worthwhile thoughts and emotions. Needless to say, the benefits of gratitude for addiction recovery are endless.

Individuals seeking to further their healing and addiction recovery journey can reap the benefits of gratitude by using a variety of daily gratitude practices. Some examples include:

  • Tracking gratitude in a daily journal
  • Expressing gratitude to others
    • Writing thank-you cards
    • Giving verbal thanks to a therapist, loved one, or friend
  • Taking time to pause and wonder about ordinary and extraordinary moments in life
  • Meditating on gratitude
  • Noticing good things by looking for them and appreciating them
  • Giving back through volunteering

Gratitude is an important mindfulness practice that can bring numerous benefits to those seeking recovery from addiction, trauma, and mental health disorders. For example, gratitude fuels stress reduction, joy, sobriety, and a deeper sense of purpose in your life. If you or a loved one is seeking recovery, Grace Recovery is here to walk alongside you as you heal. We offer a wide range of recovery resources for women including transitional living homes, experiential recovery coaching, life-skills building, and more. Our goal is to assist women and their families in reclaiming their lives from addiction and its long-lasting effects. To learn more, give us a call today at (737) 237-9663.

About Author

Leah Malone

Learning to sit with uncomfortable feelings can be painful and disturbing at times. When Leah was able to see her behavior patterns and decided there was enough pain to be disturbed, she became motivated to make changes and accept the work that needed to be done to heal. She needed direction and had no clue how to heal on her own. Through a connection with God, authentic connection with others, honesty, willingness, and humility, Leah is now in recovery from addiction and trauma.

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