How being thankful can improve your mental health
Articles / Blog
04-07-15 Category: Mental Health

improve your mental health

Integrating thankfulness and gratitude into the daily routine has proven to be very beneficial. It is a habit that can, and usually will, improve anyone’s mood immensely and can even decrease the effects of depression.

Research has shown that consciously thinking about things one is thankful for everyday can make one feel more appreciative of life overall while simultaneously improving depression symptoms. A study completed by Eva Kahana examined the effect of thankfulness for a full 20 years. Kahana analyzed a group of people who were all 73 years of age or older at the beginning of the study. By the end of the study, the findings were essentially unanimous: those who expressed their gratitude and/or did altruistic things for others around them were significantly happier than those who did not.

One report that was published in the Journal of Happiness Studies discovered that those who were over 60 years of age who kept journals with daily entries focusing on things that made them thankful felt less stressed compared to before they began their documentation. Other studies have found that couples who thanked each other felt happier within their romantic relationships and employees who were thanked by their managers were more motivated and productive.

Tips for being thankful
It can easily be said that thankfulness, gratitude and altruism are good for mental health. So the next step many individuals should take is implementing thankfulness into a daily routine with the following tips:

  • Keep a journal: As previously mentioned, studies have found that those who kept gratitude journals had a decrease in depression symptoms and increase in positivity. Keeping a journal can reinforce positive thoughts and help someone work towards personal goals. Focusing on the positive by keeping a gratitude journal combats the brain’s natural impulse to focus on the negative, especially if someone commits to keeping the journal and writing in it for five to ten minutes everyday
  • Don’t avoid the negative: Contrary to popular belief, embracing setbacks and bad things can actually help to improve a thankful attitude. Recalling a hard experience in the past can help someone better appreciate the current state and strengthen the ability to overcome previous challenges
  • Take time to spend with loved ones: Most people didn’t get where they are today without the help of their family and friends so recognizing those who contributed and matter the most is a great way to cultivate thankfulness and gratitude. Spending time with loved ones helps to strengthen relationships and create closeness, all of which increases happiness and helps with one’s ability to cope with stress
  • Understand the value of small things: Small acts of kindness can make a big difference, which is why it is good to acknowledge and pay forward each bit of kindness that comes along
  • Sprinkle in some volunteer work during the week: Paying it forward is a habit that can be done through the act of volunteer work. The act of volunteering falls into the category of altruism and can lower feelings of depression, increase overall well-being and help one appreciate his or her own talents
  • Exercise: Exercise and gratitude go hand-in-hand. Exercise lowers dietary restrictions and lowers the risk of a person smoking or abusing alcohol, all while helping to clear the mind and reducing stress, which can help the mind focus more on being grateful for being health

Sometimes it can be hard to be thankful with all the difficulties that life throws our way. However, making an effort to be thankful and grateful on a daily basis has been proven to be very beneficial, so remember to implement some of these tips to expand your habit of thankfulness going forward.

If you or your loved one is struggling with a mental health disorder, don’t hesitate to find help. Sovereign Health Group provides effective treatment programs for those individuals struggling with mental health issues such as depression or anxiety. To find out more about mental health treatment options offered at Sovereign Health of California, call us at (866) 819-0427 to talk to a member of our team.

Written by Brianna Gibbons, Sovereign Health Group writer

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