I wish my teenage self knew about gratitude therapy.
Do you ever look back on your school days and wonder why we were taught about how limestone is formed or what the Pythagorean theorem is? That time should've been spent teaching us valuable life lessons. Where were the classes about caring for our mental health? Or how to open a savings account? One subject every school should introduce is gratitude therapy. Replace the lessons about how waterfalls are formed and replace them with classes that will benefit pupils' mental health. I was in my late twenties when I first learned about gratitude therapy, but I wish my teenage self knew about it, especially during heightened times of stress like the Leaving Cert.
"Introducing gratitude therapy as a class would help so many teenagers"
Gratitude therapy is "the act of thoughtfully reflecting on the aspects of life that bring great joy, causing feelings of gratefulness, rather than the insatiable longing of what's just out of reach". Practicing gratitude therapy has helped me cope with both my anxiety disorder and low mood. It has also made me realise that you can always find a glimmer of light, even in the darkest of situations.
According to Psychology Today, practicing gratitude on a regular basis helps you become emotionally resilient. It also improves your physical and mental health. As well as all of that, gratitude therapy helps us experience a greater sense of well-being. However, gratitude therapy isn't about ignoring all the bad in the world or the stresses in one's life.
Jill Leibowitz explains: "It’s still important to acknowledge negative feelings I’m not suggesting that we deny our children’s fear, loss, anger, or trauma. It’s crucial for children to express their negative emotions.
"Children often can’t let go of negative feelings until they’ve been acknowledged by and processed with another. But once validated, it’s important to help children shift their focus to other more pleasurable experiences and memories."
"Gratitude therapy will have a far greater impact on their lives than long division ever will"
One of the best ways to practice gratitude therapy is to simply write a list. Grab a pen and paper and write ten things you're grateful for at that moment. They don't need to be extreme; something as simple as hugging your mam is enough. When you read back over the list you'll soon realise that things are never as bad as they seem.
Jill Leibowitz added, "The benefits of gratitude can take a few weeks to develop.
"But once established, they have lasting effects on the brain and on mental health overall."
Isn't it time to change the curriculum and introduce subjects that will actually help our children in the long run? Gratitude therapy will have a far greater impact on their lives than long division ever will.
Would you like to see gratitude therapy introduced as a subject in school? It would certainly make school a far happier and stress-free place for children.