The holidays are almost upon us, which often creates the potential for additional stress, post-holiday depression and general winter blues. But there is a way to avoid all three, and it’s as easy as saying “thank you.” Expressions of gratitude can greatly diminish feelings of sadness, symptoms of depression and yes, it can even make you happy in the long run.
Gratitude is a way for people to appreciate what they have instead of always reaching for something new in the hopes it will make them happier, or thinking they can’t feel satisfied until every physical and material need is met. Gratitude helps people refocus on what they have instead of what they lack. And, although it may feel contrived at first, this mental state grows stronger with use and practice.
Experts suggest that adopting a daily gratitude practice or maintaining a “gratitude journal” can boost or prolong feelings of happiness. In one study, researchers found that “[c]ompared with the participants who wrote about negative experiences or only received counseling, those who wrote gratitude letters reported significantly better mental health four weeks and 12 weeks after their writing exercise ended.”
Moreover, establishing a daily routine of giving thanks – in any manner with which you are comfortable – can create a sense of mental and physical well-being. Combining a daily gratitude practice with getting seven to eight hours of sleep a night, a regular exercise regimen and maintaining a diet high in fruits, vegetables and whole grains (and low in refined sugars and other pro-inflammatory highly refined foods) can truly help you feel happier not just during emotionally stressful and dessert-filled holidays, but every day throughout the year!
 Harvard Medical School. (no date). Giving thanks can make you happier. Harvard Healthbeat. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/giving-thanks-can-make-you-happier.
 Wong, J. & Brown, J. (2017, June 6). How Gratitude Changes You and Your Brain. Greater Good Magazine. Retrieved from https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/how_gratitude_changes_you_and_your_brain.
 Singh, M. (2018, December 24). If You Feel Thankful, Write It Down. It’s Good For Your Health. NPR.org. Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2018/12/24/678232331/if-you-feel-thankful-write-it-down-its-good-for-your-health.