How to Practice Gratitude When You’re Depressed

young adult gratitude

Happiness is a goal that most people hope to achieve. It’s why you’ve seen an increase in practices such as self-care and gratitude.

Gratitude is a form of self-care that aims to bring a sense of well-being and contentment through appreciating the things we have in our lives. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to practice any type of self-care when you’re suffering from depression.

How Does Gratitude Help With Depression?

The feelings and behavioral changes that depression brings don’t just go away and gratitude won’t cure your chronic depression, but it might just help to grease the wheel a little bit.

For instance, a study reported in Psychology Today found that people with anxiety and depression who kept a daily gratitude journal were able to sleep better. This is because gratitude journals challenge negative thought processes in a way similar to cognitive behavioral therapy.

5 Ways To Practice Gratitude With Depression

Of course, gratitude journals don’t replace therapy. But they can ease your depression symptoms to help you live a little easier. You just need to find a way to practice gratitude in a way that works for you.

Here are five ways you can practice gratitude to increase your appreciation of your everyday life even when you’re losing interest or feeling fatigued.

  1. Make an ingratitude list. Sometimes to find the things you appreciate in your life you need to make a list of the things you’re not thankful for. This can also help you separate the things you actually don’t appreciate from the things you just happen to be losing interest in because of your depression. Are you really not grateful for the painting supplies you have? Or are you just disinterested in them right now? Consider donating the things that you’re truly unappreciative of that only make you feel negative when you see them.
  2. Connect with others. This part will be hard because your depression will try to pull you back to social isolation. But social isolation has proven time and time again to be bad for our health. Humans are social creatures, and whether you’re an extrovert or an introvert we really do need regular social contact to stay healthy. Try to make a conscious effort to connect with the people you love, a support group, or a trusted friend. Don’t connect with them with any expectation of any result, just focus on being with them.
  3. Find and thank a part of yourself that doesn’t hurt. Depression and anxiety can come with physical pain such as body aches, stomach aches, fatigue, and nausea. When you’re suffering from these symptoms, find a part of your body that doesn’t hurt. Tell it thank you by saying, out loud, “I am grateful for [this part of my body].” Maybe it’s your pinky finger or your appendix. Either way, focusing on a part of your body that doesn’t hurt will help to draw attention away from the parts that do.
  4. Remember a time when you experienced kindness. The guilt that comes with depression can sometimes lead to self-deprecation. We all have events in our lives that we wish went differently, but your depression can make these events play over and over again in your memory. To help you navigate this negative process, remember a time when someone was kind to you and made you happy. Maybe someone complimented you when they were passing by or a teacher really helped you when you were struggling.
  5. Focus your gratitude externally. Anxiety and depression can keep you focusing on the internal. You feel tired, sick, lonely, or maybe even nothing at all. By focusing your gratitude externally, you can help to ground yourself in the moment. What’s right in front of you? You might appreciate the texture of your bedsheets, your hot cup of coffee, or the small ray of sunlight coming in through your window. The gratitude you show doesn’t have to be something extreme. It’s finding the things you appreciate in your everyday life, no matter how small, that can help make you feel a little more content.

You can’t cure your depression with gratitude. But gratitude can help to ease negative thought processes and reduce symptoms so you can improve your well-being. Experiment with ways you can show gratitude every day and find a method that works best for you.

 

Author bio: Matt O’Grady studied Psychology in college at Hofstra University and has worked in marketing for the last 25 years. In addition to Matt O’Grady Coaching, he owns and operates the Digital Marketing Company HarmoniaMedia.com and is the author of Living Gratitude: A Simple Path to Happiness.

The opinions and views expressed in this guest blog do not necessarily reflect those of www.rtor.org or its sponsor, Laurel House, Inc. The author and www.rtor.org have no affiliations with any products or services mentioned in this article or linked to herein.

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6 thoughts on “How to Practice Gratitude When You’re Depressed

  1. Avatar
    Matt O'Grady says:

    I am so grateful to be able to author this post for you. I usually don’t leave messages on these but I was inspired to do so because “depression” is what originally inspired my gratitude practice 25 years ago. I can attest to the massive positive effect it had on my life. It was the light that led me out of the dark and I believe in it to my core. My wish is that it helps many of you as well! Please feel free to reach out to me directly for any support with your practice. Thankfully, Matt O’Grady. http://www.mattogradycoaching.com

  2. Avatar
    Jay Boll, Editor in Chief says:

    Matt,

    Thanks for sharing your post with us. I have also found that it helps to feel and express gratitude in my life. This is as good a place as any to say how grateful I am for all the talented guest bloggers who write for us. Thanks! – Jay

  3. Avatar
    FTD Team says:

    Thanks Matt,
    for sharing such great and rich full content over here. Your article reminds me of those days when I was struggling with depression. Now I’m good and self dependent
    because of gratitude.
    Gratitude for self, for others, for parents for gods.
    It really helps me a lot to get out of depression.
    Your article really helps others too.
    Keep writing such great rich full advice,
    Thanks again.

  4. Avatar
    James Wickersham says:

    These are all excellent ways of helping to develop and maintain a more positive attitude. I often run through a little gratitude list when I catch my thoughts leading to the negative end of the spectrum. As a recovering alcoholic, I found that gratitude helps me to focus on what is good in my life, rather than the devastation left behind by a life of addiction.

  5. Avatar
    Emily says:

    Just going to comment that the more depressed you are, the harder it will be to name things you’re grateful for, and to feel that gratitude! I’ve found the same for identifying a happy memory from the past. The “ingratitude” list, and separating depression-induced apathy from lack of gratitude, is genius.

    I’m flooded with gratitude and can name an infinite list when I’m not depressed. When depressed, identifying a single one feels impossible, like sludge. Hope everyone reading this can push through it and stay safe!

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