How Practicing Gratitude Can Improve Your Mental Health

If someone asked you to list the things that you're grateful for, what would you say? Maybe you would say that you're grateful for your family, your friends, the ability to read and write, or the roof over your head. During the ups and downs of life, it's sometimes difficult to remember the things that we are grateful for, and it can be hard to express our gratitude. According to a psychology professor at the University of California, Robert Emmons, one can practice gratitude by recognizing the good things they've received, and by acknowledging those who have had a positive impact on their life (per Mindful).

Thanksgiving isn't the only time of year that someone can be grateful. If someone is interested in becoming more in touch with what they're thankful for on a daily basis, they can begin by creating a list of positive experiences or interactions they've had, as well as any personal accomplishments they're proud of themselves for, according to Choosing Therapy. An excellent way to remember what you're thankful for each day is to keep a daily gratitude journal.

To avoid taking the positive things in your life for granted, Mindful recommends viewing them as "gifts." In addition, considering the bad times in your life can foster gratitude, as it can remind you of your strength and all that you've overcome.

Furthermore, it turns out that practicing gratitude doesn't only sound good on paper, but it can have a significant positive influence on your mental health.

How gratitude can impact mental health

A daily practice of gratitude may have some amazing improvements on your mental health if you practice it consistently. Harvard Health Publishing reports that people who practice gratitude experience more positive emotions, and research in the positive psychology field indicates that gratitude is associated with increased happiness. The results of one study, including approximately 300 adult participants, found that individuals in the group who wrote gratitude letters each week were happier than the control group (per Mindful).

Gratitude can help someone become more optimistic and positive overall, and some research suggests that it may even decrease symptoms of depression in some individuals. A 2021 meta-analysis published in the International Journal of Depression and Anxiety discovered a significant relationship between increased gratitude and reduced depression symptoms across 62 published and unpublished studies that included 26,427 participants.

Practicing gratitude doesn't just help you, but it can benefit your relationships with your loved ones as well. According to Positive Psychology, having a grateful mindset can make us more likable to others, as it makes us appear more trustworthy and appreciative in our relationships. Someone who consistently expresses their appreciation may discover that their social circle begins to grow and that their existing relationships become strengthened. In addition, gratitude can facilitate better communication skills and a deeper sense of trust in relationships, as explained by Mindful.