How to Find Gratitude When You Are Depressed
At this time of the year, we are encouraged to find gratitude and give thanks. When everything is going well and you feel great, it can be easy to come up with a list of things for which you are thankful. But if you struggle with depression, it can be very hard to feel thankful for the good things in life. I have been there. Here are five ways I have learned to find gratitude.
Five Ways to Find Gratitude When You Are Depressed
1. Before you try to find gratitude, remember that it is okay to struggle.
Sometimes you might feel guilty about not feeling thankful. It can be easy to think, "I have a good life. I have friends and family, a job, and a roof over my head. I should be thankful for all of these things. What's wrong with me?"
Guilt is a completely normal emotion during depression ("Dealing with Feelings of Guilt and Shame When You're Depressed"). Of course, it does not help with finding gratitude. I found that before I could start to find gratitude, I had to deal with my guilt. I had to accept that it was okay to struggle with depression. By giving myself permission to struggle, I also gave myself permission to move forward and find gratitude.
2. Talk to your loved ones about your struggle to find gratitude.
It is okay to open up to your loved ones about your struggle to find gratitude. Being vulnerable can lead to very positive outcomes. You could find out that someone else has been struggling with the same thing. A loved one might tell you why he or she is thankful for you. Perhaps your loved ones are thankful for things you never thought about before.
3. During a conversation with someone, observe what makes him or her feel good.
People we interact with every day might not discuss what they are specifically thankful for, but we could get an idea from a casual conversation. Every once in a while, a classmate or colleague might gush about something really nice that happened to them. Someone might talk about a new relationship or a newborn niece or nephew. By hearing about what makes others feel good, you might start to feel thankful for something that you have experienced or received.
4. Think about a time when you were happy.
If you can remember a time when you were happy, you might recall things you were thankful for back then. You might also think about the things you took for granted.
When I was young, I went to Wisconsin Dells with my family. It was nice being able to go swimming at different water parks with my siblings and parents. At that time, I was most thankful for my family and the opportunity to go somewhere fun. When I think about it now, I am thankful that we were able to afford that vacation. I am thankful that I have time and money to go on another vacation somewhere else.
5. Jot down some specific words that remind you of gratitude.
If you try any of the four aforementioned ideas, write down a few positive words or phrases that come to mind. Perhaps a simple memory will help you find gratitude. Maybe someone will say something profound that makes you think about life in a new light. By having a short list of positive words or phrases, it might become easier for you to find gratitude more often.
Lueck, M. (2018, November 18). How to Find Gratitude When You Are Depressed, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, June 4 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/toughtimes/2018/11/how-to-find-gratitude-when-you-are-depressed
Author: Martha Lueck
Just to let you know, I found this to be very helpful. I have been struggling with depression, and it is so exhausting. Thanks for sharing.
Thank you very much for your kind words! I am glad that this article helped you. I hope your depression improves. Happy Thanksgiving!
I am so happy to come across this read, because I think this is a very common (and frustrating) hurdle that many people face during the holidays. Maybe you're already struggling with gratitude and then the holiday season arrives and you feel even more lacking in this department. I love your reminder that it's ok to struggle and the suggestion to write down words that remind you of gratitude. Such seemingly small practices can make a huge difference in our overall health and well being.
Thank you, Lizanne! I hope you're able to find gratitude during the upcoming holidays. :) Have a great Thanksgiving!