Gratitude is usually the last thing on our minds when depressed. It’s so much easier to focus on all the negativity that we’re feeling – in fact, that happens much more automatically. Considering the things we are grateful for is something that deserves more attention than just on Thanksgiving. Research indicates that showing gratitude throughout the year can have amazing benefits for anyone, and it can help bring us out of depression.
Gratitude increases happiness while decreasing depression, reduces stress, and improves self-esteem. That’s huge! It’s such a small thing that can go a long way towards helping you feel better and the best thing is you can do it without spending any money, or even leaving the house. The easiest way to get started is to keep a gratitude journal. Here’s how:
Instructions: At least two times a week, write a detailed journal entry about something you are grateful for. It could be about a person, a great meal, or anything that comes to mind. Be prepared to spend about 10 – 20 minutes on each journal entry.
Gratitude Journal Depression Tips and Hints
- Don’t rush. Take your time to think about what you are truly grateful for. Expect to spend 10-20 minutes on each entry, including think time.
- Writing about people you are grateful for tends to be more powerful than writing about things. But go ahead and write about those things anyway, especially if they are all you can think of at first.
- Use detail to explain why you’re grateful. For example, if you are grateful for a friend, describe what they do that is nice and why that makes you grateful.
- Try to write at least twice a week. Keep your journal where you can see it and plan when you will write. Set an alarm on your phone or calendar if you think you might forget.
- Make your gratitude journal a priority. If you treat it as just another chore to be completed and tossed to the side, it won’t do much good. Genuinely spend time thinking about your life, and experiencing gratitude.
These journaling prompts are optional. Feel free to write about anything you are grateful for, but if you get stuck, you can try one of these.
|The best part about today…||A fun experience I had…|
|A reason to be excited for the future…||Someone I can always rely on….|
|Someone whose company I enjoy…||A valuable lesson I learned…|
|Something I can be proud of…||Something beautiful I saw…|
|Someone who I admire…||An experience I feel lucky to have had…|
|A good meal I enjoyed…||An act of kindness I witnessed or received…|
Incorporating gratitude into your life can do more than just help with depression. Science has helped to prove that showing appreciation can help you win more friends and opens the door to new opportunities. And get this – gratitude can actually help you feel physically better. It helps people sleep better (and who couldn’t use a better night’s sleep?), and can enhance empathy while reducing aggression. And not only does showing gratitude reduce stress, but research studies have found that it can help in overcoming trauma and it lowers rates of PTSD. To learn more about these other benefits of gratitude, check out this article from Forbes.