Gratitude is key to battling seasonal depression

Lack of daylight got you down? You may be one of thousands of Americans who suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression that tends to pop up in winter.

If that sounds like you, here’s a tip to feel better: practice gratitude. In addition to exercise and proper nutrition, research shows that giving thanks actually makes you feel better.

For example, in one study, adults who kept a weekly gratitude journal experienced the highest jumps in happiness compared to people who recorded hassles or neutral life events. The group that practiced gratitude rated themselves more energetic, more enthusiastic, and more alert.

So count your blessings! It worked for the people in the study. Set aside time to write down the things you’re grateful for each day.

Or try these ideas:
  • Send thank you notes. Set a goal — maybe one thank you note a week. Take time to thank someone for something they did or for the positive impact they’ve had on your life.  
  • Give thanks. Spend a moment reflecting on your blessings before each meal. 
  • Keep a relationship gratitude journal. Feeling grouchy with your spouse or one of your kids? Spend a month writing down something nice they said or did each day. You’ll find yourself focusing on the positives as you look for ‘good news’ to record. 
  • Pay it forward. One blogger celebrates her birthday by committing random acts of kindness — one act for each year of her age.  
  • Say thank you. Check your thank you habit to make sure your thank you comes across as sincere, not routine. (Did you look the grocery bagger in the eye and smile or did you toss out a quick “thanks” over your shoulder?)
Practicing gratitude can make you happier. Try it…at least until the sun comes out again!