Gratitude is more than a mere “thanks” when someone does you a favor. It, in fact, has power. Daily life with depression and anxiety feels bleak. I feels as if the world is gray. Nothing seems to cheer me up, nothing feels important, I’m tired all the time, and my being feels dark.
I am a negative person. Ever since I was little, I would see the glass as half empty. Most of us can claim to be pessimistic, and there are dangers in this way of life. It can, and often does, lead to depression. Gratitude is the power that fights against pessimism.
How can Gratitude fight Depression and Anxiety?
Gratitude is the opposite of negativity. When you feel gratitude for something, you are seeing the good in life. You are grateful for the half of the glass that is full. When you focus on what you do have, you are more satisfied in your life, and you are not focusing on what you do not have. Here are 5 tips to live a life with more gratitude.
1. Think of a person or people that helped you in your life.
It may have been a parent, teacher, or friend. Think of all the ways they helped you and how it shaped you and your life. Write a text, email, or even a card/letter to them. Tell them what they have done for you and how you are grateful for them.
This activity not only benefits you, but gives that other person a sense of gratitude as well. Gratitude is very contagious. Why shouldn’t we spread it around? ? By telling them what they did for you, you are rejuvenating them, and, in turn, they will pass it on. Think of all of the lives that could be changed if we all passed on our gratitude.
2. Spend some time out in nature.
Too often, we are so closed up in our homes or workspaces that we don’t appreciate nature. Just go for a walk in your community; this does not have to be long or extensive. While you are walking outside, think of all the things you are grateful for in nature. Think about the beauty of nature and literally stop to smell the roses.
There are significant studies that show that being in nature gives major benefits to your mental health. () The more you are in nature, the more gratitude you will feel for it. I know what you might be thinking; “it is winter and cold outside.” Don’t let this stop you. Bundle up and go for a walk in a local park. Soon you will find the cold, crisp air can be cleansing.
3. Start a gratitude journal.
This does not have to be much, but find a cheap notebook to write down a few thoughts every night. Think about your day and the things you are grateful for within that day. It may be something large. For example, my mom watched the kids today, so I could have some alone time. Or, it could be as simple as things like someone held the door open for you, someone helped you with your kids, or someone was kind to you. Maybe the kids were good today. I am always grateful for the little moments when my child say he loves me, when my two boys hug (especially when I didn’t tell them to) or all the dishes and cleaning is done, and I actually get some time in the evening to relax.
As you focus of the little things in each day, remember to write them down. When you write them down, you can refer to them and see the good you have in your life. Every time you write something down, you are feeling gratitude and focusing on what you do have. This will boost your positivity and happiness.
4. Think of someone who helps you on a daily or weekly basis.
It could be a spouse, family member, or even a friend. Carefully watch all the things they do for you within a week’s time, and record these things. After a week, try to do something for them that will show them your gratitude.
This is activity is important, not only because it is spreading the contagious gratitude, but because it takes someone close to you and helps them to feel appreciated. It shows the people around you how and why you’re thankful for them. Ultimately, this will build a stronger bond between yourself and them. If this is your spouse, then it will build a stronger marriage, which will also result in a happier and fuller life.
5. Bad days
This tip is for those bad days. We all have struggles with depression and anxiety, but some days are worse than others. When you are hit with one of these days, you need to immediately think of all the things you are grateful for in that very moment. I do not care how hopeless things are; there is always something to be grateful for.
If you take a moment to think and feel gratitude, it will lift you. It brings positivity into your life that you thought you were incapable of feeling. Depression is caused by pessimism. So, bring back the positivity in your life to fight the depression. This is done by focusing on the good in your life and feeling gratitude for what you do have.
Your next step
Take each of these tips and try them out. Give it a chance for a month, then look back on your progress. Think about how that month has been different and how you have felt. If these activities have made a difference in your life and your happiness, then make each one a habit. As you incorporate these tips into your life, you will find a more meaningful life with less depression and anxiety.
Think about what you do have; not what you lack. Remember, the glass may be half empty, but there is, at least, something in it. If you train your brain to see what you do have through gratitude, then you will always see the glass half full.