Bregman Medical Group | Services

Gratitude for Better Mental Health

Gratitude for Better Mental Health

It can be so easy to get lost in negative thoughts. In a way, our brains are used to it. We evolved to think of negative outcomes in order to protect ourselves from danger. But what if this thought pattern goes into overdrive?

One of the best strategies to lift us out of our negativity doldrums is practicing gratitude. Most of us know what gratitude means but what does it mean to “practice gratitude?” There are a number of ways we can express to ourselves and those around us how appreciative we are of the good things in life.

Studies have shown that gratitude increases feelings of wellbeing and altruism. Sufferers of anxiety and depression reliably see a marked improvement in their mental health.

Here are 3 ways you can begin cultivating a mindset of gratitude:

  1. Write it out: One study involved mental health patients writing letters of gratitude. Two other groups were studied, both of which did not write these letters. In the letter-writing group, notable improvements in mental health were reported for weeks after the writing exercises. And they didn’t even have to write a letter to anyone. Certainly, expressing gratitude to friends and family can be positive for everyone involved. But some participants in this group never sent or addressed their letters to anyone, and they enjoyed better mental health as well.

  2. Notice nature: Spending time in nature and appreciating the beauty of it can connect us to the world and create a sense of calm. Pick a nice day and go for a stroll. Walking itself can be almost meditative, bringing us into an easeful state of mind. While looking about, one can bring to mind the colors of trees and plants, the feeling of the wind on your face, and the sound of animals chirping or otherwise communicating. It then becomes easier to reflect on how lucky we are to see colors, feel the wind, and share the world with other beings.

  3. Meditation: Meditation is already on the rise as a great way to support good mental health. Training our focus and building equanimity has been shown to decrease anxiety and depression, and studies have shown the neurological proof of this. Gratitude meditation practice can specifically work to build appreciation for what we have. For example, one might focus on the feelings of the body, and then cultivate gratitude for working limbs/senses/bodily functions that keep us going. Or perhaps one may focus on appreciation for the people and things in our lives that bring us joy.  

Regardless of how you do it, building a sense of gratitude can only make life better. It helps us enjoy the good things, reframe the bad things, and connect more deeply with our relationships and activities. Especially in times like these, it is important to remember what we are grateful for. And if you look, there are certainly plenty of things to make the world a happier place.

If a gratitude practice and other self-care methods are not enough, then you may be in need of a mental health professional. Bregman Medical Group has years of experience helping patients live happier, better lives. We offer only psychiatry and talk therapy. Schedule an appointment at or call 305-740-3340.

By BregmanMD | December 24, 2020 | Mental Health

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