Are there times when you’re feeling down in the dumps or bummed out about something? Well, if you said yes, you’re right in there with most of the population. There are people who feel sad on occasion, and there are also people who walk around feeling depressed a lot, or most of the time. When you start to feel sad there are times when it may be harder than other times to pull yourself out of that state. That’s where an attitude of gratitude comes in!
Research shows that by expressing gratitude, and embracing gratitude every day, you can help improve your mood! There was an article written on several research studies about gratitude and how it can improve your well-being. You can check it out here.
Many of the clients I work with experience depression, and one thing I’m always talking about is gratitude! I also use this with families who are struggling with their relationships and communication. In these instances, there is usually someone who is feeling down or disconnected from their family. By having them do gratitude exercises, they often times report an increase in their mood, along with relationships.
That’s another thing I want to talk about, is how relationships are effected when you’re depressed. When you’re depressed it’s hard to engage with other people, nevertheless have a meaningful conversation in which you are equal participants. A lot of people don’t want to join in family meals, activities, etc. People find it hard to socialize with others when they are depressed and will often isolate by being alone in their room, or staying away from the house more than they normally would.
So, let’s talk about some things that you can do, by yourself and with family members, to help improve your mood.
- Gratitude Journal
- One thing I always like to have people do is keep a gratitude journal. There are all different kinds that you can find on Amazon or at a store like Barnes & Noble. Some of them have blank pages and some have prompts for you to follow. The ones I often recommend for families are blank. I ask each family member to write down three things they are grateful for each day. If it’s an individual, I have them do this before bed so they can find a few things they were grateful for that day. For individuals, I like to recommend one with prompts like this one.
- Notes to Self
- There is also an app I like. It’s both on Apple and Android phones. It’s called Notes to Self. When you open it, an inspirational quote pops up on your screen. Then it gives you three categories to write something in. The first is 3 things you’re grateful for. Second is to reflect on something good. And lastly, is a random act of kindness (which I’ll talk about in a bit). It also allows you to pick a time to be reminded to enter your daily items. My reminder goes off at 6pm, which up until recently has been when I’m home. As my schedule has recently changed I’ll probably set it for before bedtime in order to record things more regularly.
- Family Dinner
- For families, I also might have them go around the table and talk about one thing they are grateful for that day. No one can repeat what another has said, and they need to talk about why they are grateful for what they have mentioned. Verbalizing gratitude leads to people realizing there are positive moments in their day when they might have thought there were none.
- Random Acts of Kindness
- Here is where I’ll mention random acts of kindness. I have mentioned this in several of my posts because I truly believe in this. By doing something for someone else, it leads to you feeling good at the same time. Christine Carter of Greater Good at UC Berkeley wrote an article on this topic. She states “We feel good when we give because we get what researchers call a “helpers high,” or a distinct physical sensation associated with helping.” You can read the entire article here
Here are a few other random acts of kindness you can easily do:
- Give someone a genuine compliment
- Make a cup of coffee or tea for someone in your office
- Do a load of laundry without being asked by your spouse or parent
- Donate an item or two to a local food bank
- Hold the door open for someone when you’re entering a place at the same time
- Call someone “just because” who you haven’t spoken to for a while
- Visit a nursing home
- Write an email to someone and express your gratitude towards them
The great thing about all of these activities is that they are low cost or no cost. Doing a random act of kindness doesn’t have to cost a lot, or anything in fact.
If you’re interested in learning more about how you can incorporate gratitude into your daily life, or you want to help improving your mood, please feel free to contact me.
*I am in no way affiliated with any of the links provided. I just happen to use their products and think they’re helpful.
Norine Vander Hooven is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Westlake Village, California, and has been in practice for 30 years. Every person is unique in what fits best for them, and we will work together to see what is right for you. Norine specializes in suicide prevention, depression, anxiety, mindfulness, and trauma. Norine is also EMDR trained and uses this to work with people experiencing a variety of issues. Norine works with youth, adolescents, adults, and families.