Gratitude & Mental Health

November is often a time associated with gratitude, as we prepare for and celebrate Thanksgiving. But sometimes it can be hard to feel grateful, especially if mental health struggles make it challenging to feel anything positive.

Additionally, the holidays can even make anxiety and depression more challenging. If you or your child are struggling with your mental health, it may be helpful to try to implement gratitude more into your everyday actions, words, and behaviors. While this is not a cure for mental health issues, it can help you see things about your life that you love.

Research has found that practicing gratitude can improve your mood, your social bonds, and your physical health.

One study found that people who wrote down things they were grateful for were more likely to exercise and less likely to visit the doctor than those who did not. Another study found that when people delivered a letter of gratitude to someone who had not been thanked for their kindness, the health benefits and high levels of happiness lasted an entire month.

Sometimes little acts of gratitude can make such a difference, even if they take 5 minutes. One study found that “thankfulness predicted a significantly lower risk of major depression, generalized anxiety disorder, phobia, nicotine dependence, alcohol dependence, and drug abuse.”

So, what can we do to practice gratitude? below, you’ll find some suggestions on how to add gratitude practices into your everyday life.

Gratitude Practices

Below are some things you can do daily to practice gratitude:

  • Write down something you are grateful for every day. It can look as simple as, “I’m thankful I woke up today.”
  • Write a gratitude letter to someone. That someone can even be yourself!
    If you don’t have time to write a letter, mentally thank someone! It can help to just think about someone that has done something nice for you.
  • Meditate, and while you do so, think about the things you hear and feel that you are grateful for.
  • When you come upon something you love, take a moment to be still and reflect on why you are grateful for that something.
  • Say “thank you more often to those around you, especially the people you love.

Gratitude does not just need to be a personal practice—think of how powerful it mights be to practice gratitude with others! Here are some examples of how you can practice gratitude with your children and families:

Family Gratitude Activities

Start a new family tradition:

  • We often go around the dinner table on Thanksgiving and say things that we are grateful for. Don’t limit this to one day a year! It can be something to do daily or weekly.
  • Play gratitude “20 questions”! Have people choose something they are grateful for that others can guess.
  • Create a family gratitude journal that everyone can add their thoughts.

Gratitude is so empowering for individuals and families. Don’t be hesitant to share the gratitude practices that have worked for you with your friends and extended family.


  • The mental health benefits of gratitude. Nationwide Children’s Hospital. (2020, May 3). Retrieved September 22, 2021, from
  • Giving thanks can make you happier. Harvard Health. (2021, August 14). Retrieved September 22, 2021, from
  • Greenstein, L. (2016, September 23). When looking for happiness, find gratitude. NAMI. Retrieved September 22, 2021, from
  • Smith, J. A. (2013, November 20). Six habits of highly grateful people. Greater Good. Retrieved September 22, 2021, from