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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.