Gratitude is Good for your Health,
November 20, 2018

With Thanksgiving and #GivingTuesday just around the corner, we here at HDRF have been thinking a lot about gratitude. Gratitude for the selfless actions of others, gratitude for the happy moments in our day-to-day, and gratitude for all of the people and things we love.

It got us thinking about the science of gratitude and the immense positive impact it has on mental health. Below we have shared some of the facts about experiencing and expressing gratitude, and how it may further improve your holiday season.

Gratitude can be conceptualized in many ways, but is most often viewed as an emotion or an attitude surrounding thankfulness or graciousness. While it has been written about broadly as an emotion with incredible positive influences on well-being, until the early 2000s little empirical research had been done to better understand the effects of gratitude.

A 2003 study found that writing down 5 things you were grateful for once a week was associated with more positive views of your own life, more time exercising, and fewer physical symptoms.* A daily gratitude journal made people more likely to help others with personal problems, heavily indicating a positive impact on social interaction.*

Through other studies six main impacts of gratitude have been discovered.** Gratitude:

  1. Improves a person’s ability to cope with stress
  2. Decreases feelings of jealousy, resentment, and regret, specifically when derived from social comparisons
  3. Reduces material-based goals and pursuits usually associated with a negative well-being
  4. Enhances a person’s ability to access positive memories
  5. Improves relationships with others and encourages selfless acts of assistance towards others
  6. May enhance spiritual well-being

To reap all of the positive benefits of gratitude both during and outside of the holiday season, we have a few helpful tips.

  • Keep a gratitude journal
    • This could be a daily or weekly journal where you write down five to ten things you are grateful for
  • Articulate your gratitude
    • When someone in your life makes you feel especially thankful, don’t be afraid to tell them
  • Consider the way you speak
    • Using language of gratitude in your day-to-day life makes you think about what you are grateful for more often
  • Consider volunteering
    • Doing things for others can make you even more cognizant of the good things you experience and that others do for you

Thanksgiving gives us a yearly reminder to think about what and who we are grateful for in our day to day lives. This year we encourage you to continue those thoughts before and beyond the holiday. Thank you all for the positive influences you have on making HDRF a leader in depression research and awareness. We are truly grateful for all of you!


*Emmons, R. A., & McCullough, M. E. (2003). Counting blessings versus burdens: An experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84(2), 377-389.

**Cheng, S., Tsui, P. K., & Lam, J. H. M. (2015). Improving mental health in health care practitioners: Randomized controlled trial of a gratitude intervention.Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 83(1), 177-186. doi:


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