Practicing Gratitude While Struggling with Depression
How do we go about practicing gratitude while we are struggling with depression? I will admit that I am currently trying to figure that out myself. This article is meant to help me as much as it is those of you who are reading it.
The familiar darkness has descended again and it has blinded me to the blessings in my life. For any of you facing this struggle, or for those who will deal with it eventually, let's work on some strategies for practicing gratefulness even in the midst of our depressive episodes.
Strategies for Practicing Gratitude with Depression
- When practicing gratitude, start with the basics. I have been so low that I've had a hard time finding anything -- and I do mean anything -- for which to be thankful lately. I keep seeing "gratitude posts" made by others on social media for Thanksgiving month, and I feel guilty because I just don't feel grateful right now. Some of you may be feeling the same way; however, one thing you and I can do is to start with some basic things we do have: food, clothing, shelter, life. Yes, we have life. Our lives may be painful right now. Our lives may be dark right now. We may struggle to see any goodness or hope in our lives. We may even struggle to stay alive at times. But we are still here. We are still fighting. And for that, we can be thankful.
- Think of one thing you like about yourself. I know how difficult this is when you have depression, but I know you and I can find one thing about ourselves for which we are thankful ("How to Identify Your Good Qualities When You Feel Worthless"). It could be our resilience, our courage, our strength, our gifts and talents, our kind hearts, our compassion, our service to others, or any number of other beautiful qualities. Practice gratitude for the things that make you the wonderful person that you are. There is more to us than our depression.
- Volunteer. With the upcoming holidays, there are several volunteer options available. When we reach out to others, we experience their gratitude toward us and in turn, we can be grateful that we were able to help someone else. For example, I have a daughter with significant special needs, so I started a special needs support group. We have an upcoming Christmas party, and my co-leader and I enjoy planning and preparing for all the children. Even though she and I both have our own struggles with our special needs children, we still have a passion for reaching out to other special needs families. In spite of my depression, I am able to feel grateful for the opportunity I have to include these children in a holiday celebration that's custom-made just for them. Find your niche and then get involved.
- Create a gratitude journal. Buy a pretty journal or notebook. Get some colored pens if you like. Then write down every little (and big and everything in between) thing for which you're thankful. Your depression didn't keep you from getting out of bed today? Great, write that down. You made and kept your therapy appointment? Good for you. You should be grateful for that. It goes in your gratitude journal. In my journal, you can see everything from, "I got out of bed five minutes after waking," to, "I used coping skills and took a walk, instead, when I felt like harming myself." I also write about things other than my depression in my gratitude journal. When my special needs daughter reaches a milestone, I write about that. I write about my gratitude for my older children; they are compassionate and helpful, especially when they cook and clean the kitchen. I write about my thankfulness for my husband, who is loving and supportive. During the times of depression in which I'm struggling the most, I can read my gratitude journal and see that I do have some light in the darkness. I encourage you to start your own journal and see how it makes a difference in your life as you battle depression.
Smith, J. (2018, November 7). Practicing Gratitude While Struggling with Depression, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, July 12 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/copingwithdepression/2018/11/practicing-gratitude-while-struggling-with-depression
Author: Jennifer Smith
Hello, John. Thank you for your comment. It's true that depression skews our view and causes us to focus on negative thoughts. By practicing gratitude, we can shift out focus to positive thoughts and aspects of life.
Definitely plenty to be thankful for. Even with its faults, just living in the USA is one of them. Depression and anxiety always puts ones mind in the land of negative. Mornings should always start with gratitude and positive affirmations...
Hello, Kate. Thank you for sharing your blog.