How practicing gratitude can improve your mental health

Reflecting on what you’re grateful for can get you through the day-to-day pressures and stresses during difficult times.

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Making a habit of focusing on the positives in your life can offer great benefits to your mental health, said Cheryl Crowe, director of Behavioral Health for OSF HealthCare.

“There’s health benefits to gratitude, certainly. It puts us in a better, positive state. It really builds that resilience,” Crowe said. “It’s just a tool we can use to focus on the good things and the blessings. I think when we do that we just stay in a very positive state of mind, which is important for all of us.”

Find time to reflect

Taking a few moments to reflect on gratitude can help you find meaning in small but enjoyable moments, like a great cup of coffee or a fun conversation with a coworker.

Crowe said it’s easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day grind. But choosing to be grateful can help boost a person’s mood. And gratitude can also be contagious.

“When we get stuck in a negative place we tend to bring people to us who are also very stuck. This is an opportunity to really not only help them share a different message, but to have a different experience,” Crowe said.

Practice, practice, practice

gratitude listBut gratitude takes practice.

Crowe suggests starting with approaches like saying, “thank you,” to people who may not expect it, or writing down a few things each day that make you grateful.

One act of gratitude can cause a ripple effect, impacting someone’s life in ways beyond measure, she said.

“This is an important topic because there are so many people who are lonely and in need. We are seeing that impact things like suicide rates and rates of depression,” Crowe said. “We have an opportunity when we practice gratitude to share our experiences and to share that joy.  We really need to reach out to people who may need us, and need more than we need at that moment. I think this is our opportunity to do that, and be grateful for what gifts we can share.”

Seek help

When gratitude is hard to come by, there is help available. OSF HealthCare has a robust library of mental health resources that can assist you in finding the help you need.

OSF HealthCare also provides a digital tool called OSF SilverCloud, which assists people in managing anxiety, depression, stress, or a combination of anxiety and depression. OSF SilverCloud is free to access for adults – even those who are not current OSF HealthCare patients.

Last Updated: April 16, 2020

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