Depression / Gratitude / stress management
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Over the past several years, we are hearing more and more about the positive impact of gratitude. Amy Morin, psychotherapist, wrote an article for Psychology Today and reports the 7 scientifically proven benefits of gratitude (see article):
• Improves physical health
• Opens the door to more relationships
• Improves psychological health
• Enhances empathy and reduces aggression
• Improves sleep
• Improves self esteem
• Increases mental strength
The evidence supports that people who practice gratitude in their lives are happier and less depressed, but new research is showing that gratitude is even beneficial for those with mental health concerns. Indiana University professors, Joel Wong, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Counseling and Psychology and Joshua Brown Ph.D., Professor of Psychology and Brain Science, conducted a randomized control trial with 300 mostly college students who sought counseling services. The students were divided into three groups. The first group received counseling and were instructed to write one letter of gratitude to another person for three weeks. The second group received counseling and were instructed to write about their deepest thoughts, feelings and negative experiences. The third group received counseling but did no writing.
The results? The group who wrote the gratitude letters reported significantly better mental health at 4 and 12 weeks after the exercise ended, suggesting that gratitude writing can be beneficial for both the healthy and for those struggling with mental health concerns even when the practice is brief. It seems that gratitude with psychological counseling carriers an even greater benefit than counseling alone (read the review article at Greater Good Magazine).
Choosing to cultivate a mindset of gratitude, especially when it’s supported with professional mental health counseling, has many positive personal benefits. When gratitude is put into action, whether that is writing a gratitude list, smiling at someone, offering a helping hand or simply acknowledging a kindness with a “Thank You”, the impact of gratitude in your life is magnified. It’s like the instructions on a shampoo bottle: Choose gratitude, act on it, repeat.
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