Research around gratitude has demonstrated positive impacts on symptoms associated with depression and bipolar. Researchers Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough studied this by asking participants to write a few sentences each week.
One group wrote about things they were grateful for that occurred during the week. A second group wrote about irritations or things that had displeased them, and the third wrote about events that affected them (with no emphasis on them being positive or negative). After 10 weeks, those who wrote about gratitude were more optimistic and felt better about their lives. Surprisingly, they also exercised more and had fewer visits to physicians than those who focused on sources of aggravation.¹
As the temperatures chill and family gatherings take up our energy, think about how practicing gratitude can shift your mental space. Here are some ideas that may help prompt a gratitude practice for you and your family.
Write a Thank You Note. Has someone helped you out recently? Does someone support you who rarely gets recognition? Take a moment to jot down your appreciation in a note. Writing thanks to friends, families, and coworkers can remind us how much support and care we have in our communities.
Keep a Gratitude Journal. Establishing a special place to document your gratitude can be a useful tool in keeping track of all you have to be appreciative of. Having a hard day? Reread the journal and remind yourself of your practice.
Volunteer. Taking time to connect with your favorite organization can remind you about folks in your community who are in need. Making time to give to others can be a rewarding experience and is better when accompanied by friends and family!
Make Gratitude a Family Practice. Gratitude is best when shared! Think about incorporating gratitude into your daily meals with your family. Have each member express something they are grateful for. Sharing gratitude with your family can be very helpful in establishing your gratitude practice.
¹ Harvard Health Publishing. “Giving Thanks Can Make You Happier.” Harvard Health. Accessed November 28, 2023. https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/giving-thanks-can-make-you-happier.