As the holiday season rolls in we wanted to discuss the importance of gratitude in SEL. Gratitude helps people to practice mindfulness, increase empathy, and can increase emotional awareness in oneself. Greater Good, Psychology Today, and Harvard explain that regular practice of gratitude can increase the positive emotions and decrease depression and stress. However, these results take time so do not lose your motivation. CNN also notes that regular practice of gratitude can improve one’s physical health by decreasing the stress level and negative emotions one experiences.
So how might you practice gratitude? There are many ways to do so – and you do not always need to share what you are grateful for either. One way to start is by asking yourself some of these questions that Colorado SKIES Academy explains in their article:
- Did someone do something nice for you, take you somewhere nice, or give you something nice?
- What are some things that you are grateful for?
- Why might someone do something nice for someone else and how does that make you feel?
- How might you do something nice for someone else?
Perhaps you already know what makes you grateful, but you do not know how to express that. Try writing it down. Writing thank you notes and cards are a great way to express your gratitude with others. However, maybe you would rather just keep these notes of gratitude for yourself – this is a great time to try out a gratitude jar or journal. Check out our past gratitude challenge for some unique templates for gratitude journaling. If journaling or letter writing is not your thing per se, check out this article by Positive Psychology or this article by Mindful for some more ideas.
Gratitude is also important for our students and classrooms. Edutopia explains how educators can model gratitude for students through thanking classroom leaders and encouraging students to openly express gratitude in the classroom. Below are two SEL video lessons explaining gratitude and giving thanks:
This article by Greater Good provides three classroom lessons for grades K-8 to help teach gratitude. These lessons include openly expressing gratitude to others and learning about what historical figures have done for others. SEL Space provides a few more classroom exercises to practice gratitude with your students. This brief article by Kids Health notes three more simple ways that students can practice their gratitude.
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We hope that this information encourages you to practice gratitude a little bit more this month.