The holiday season is a time to cherish family, revel in gratitude, and give thanks. It’s truly a wonderful time of year, and perhaps, the gratitude might even save a life. The holiday season is actually the time of the year with the lowest suicide rates, despite many myths that say otherwise. This is directly linked to the gratitude many feel and are reminded of.
My sponsor and my friends used to always tell me to write a gratitude list when I was feeling down, and it wasn’t for a long time that I understood why. Reflecting on gratitude, reveling in gratitude, and expressing gratitude has been proven to dramatically increase the well being of every individual, proven empirically by modern positive psychology. A study was done for clinically depressed patients, where they were instructed to write down three good things that happened to them each day. After a few weeks over 90% showed dramatic improvement.
Thee are many ways to practice gratitude, such as writing a list of the things you’re grateful for, writing a gratitude letter to someone, expressing gratitude verbally, and keeping a gratitude journal of good things that happened to you throughout the day. It’s important to experiment and see which method works best for you – in my experience it’s also important to switch up the method when it feels a little stale.
When we’re upset and we focus on gratitude, we immediately redirect our focus from something negative to something positive. The brain doesn’t have the ability to focus on multiple things at once, despite it’s ability to multitask; when we’re multitasking, we’re not focused on everything that were doing. Therefore, when we switch our focus from negative thoughts to gratitude, we literally change and redirect what our brain is thinking about.
This may be why the holiday season has the lowest suicide rates of the year. Practicing and implementing a routine centered on gratitude is extremely important for people in recovery, people with depression, and all people in general. It’s so easy to start – write a list today and ruminate in the feeling of appreciation. Savoring life’s joys through gratitude is a guaranteed way to increase your well-being.