Combatting “The Blues” with Gratitude

gratitudeAs many of my clients struggle with symptoms of depression, I am always encouraged by the latest research and information on gratitude. In the last couple of years there has been an extensive amount of data collected supporting gratitude practice as a way out of depression. Although Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to feel and act grateful, we can continue the practice throughout the year with some simple actions.

  1. Set aside a moment in your day to practice gratitude. I encourage folks to begin a gratitude journal and enter things they are grateful for everyday. Many of my teens do not like to journal, so I encourage them to only post positive messages on instagram, tumblr, twitter, etc.  Make a video about what you are thankful for on vine. This is a great way to use social media as a positive outlet in their lives, rather than a negative one.
  2. Family meetings are a great way to start a practice of gratitude. In fact, thank you’s and appreciations are the first activity in the family meeting (see previous blog post).
  3. Do a random act of kindness: Last friday a kind person in front of me at Starbucks paid for my coffee and said, “have a Happy Friday!” Not only did it change my attitude about the day (it was raining and cold in Austin), it made me think of all the little things that I am thankful for.
  4. Find a way to connect with someone who you are grateful to have in your life. Send a random card, email, or gift card. One of my friends sent me an “I appreciate you” card for no reason. Again, based on the research this not only changes my happiness level, but the person who sent the note also feels happier.
  5. Have a “Gratitude Jar” at home or your place of employment and use either a marble or a slip of paper to represent acts of kindness. Each time someone feels thankful they put a marble in the jar and write an appreciation. Having a visual of all of the little things you are thankful for can make a big impact on your mood.
  6. During holiday gift time I have noticed that the more thoughtful gifts make a bigger impact. Most of the time we treasure time or handmade gifts more the material gifts.

Here are the links to some follow up articles with some of the research on gratitude I referenced. These would be great to read! 

“How Gratitude Combats Depression”
“Teaching Kids Gratitude”
“Growing up Grateful Gives Teens Multiple Mental Health Benefits” 
“Making Grateful Kids: Unexpected Lessons in Gratitude and Character for Teens”
“3 Quiet Acts of Gratitude That Cultivate Connection”

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

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