By R. Ryan S Patel DO, FAPA OSU-CCS Psychiatrist
One definition of gratitude is a state of mind where one feels and expresses thankfulness consistently over time and across situations (1).
Gratitude exercises can be quick, easy and can help improve happiness, stress, and depression (2, 3).
A study of 814 college students showed that students with higher gratitude levels were less depressed, had lower suicidal-ideation, and higher self-esteem (4).
What are some ways to use gratitude strategies/exercises to feel better fast?
- Quick gratitude journal: write one or more things that you are grateful for on a daily basis. As a way to make it part of a daily routine, could you consider thinking about gratitude during an activity that you do everyday. Learn more here.
- Consider giving 1 genuine compliment per day to someone.
- Could you make a bulletin board with images and words that make you feel grateful. This could be placed where you could see it regularly.
- When walking, could you consider using your 5 senses to find something that you are grateful for?
- A book about positive psychology: Authentic Hapiness by Martin Seligman.
- Harvard’s link on gratitude exercise (click then scroll down the page): http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/in-praise-of-gratitude
What are some resources to improve mental health?
- Counseling at the OSU Student Life Counseling and Consultation Service
- Wellness coaching through the OSU Student Wellness center
- Holiday stress article from the Mayo Clinic
- Depression information at the National Institute of Mental Health
- Anonymous mental health screen
- Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
- National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
Some people may need to practice this for a while before seeing major benefits.
Could gratitude practices help you feel better?
Disclaimer: This article is intended to be informative only. It is advised that you check with your own physician/mental health provider before implementing any changes. With this article, the author is not rendering medical advice, nor diagnosing, prescribing, or treating any condition, or injury; and therefore claims no responsibility to any person or entity for any liability, loss, or injury caused directly or indirectly as a result of the use, application, or interpretation of the material presented.
- Emmons, R. A. & Crumpler, C. A. (2000). Gratitude as a human strength:
Appraising the evidence. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 19, 56–69.
- Oleary K, Dockray S. The Effects of Two Novel Gratitude and Mindfulness Interventions on Well-Being. THE JOURNAL OF ALTERNATIVE AND COMPLEMENTARY MEDICINE. Volume 21, Number 4, 2015, pp. 243–245.
- Lin CC. The relationships among gratitude, self-esteem, depression, and suicidal
ideation among undergraduate students. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 2015, 56, 700–707. DOI: 10.1111/sjop.12252