Under the Hood

Being Thankful Is Actually Good For Your Mental Health

A new study shows that developing a sense of gratitude could help reduce the risk of psychological issues. Researchers created a program that aims to guide people in training to be more thankful and increase their mental resilience.

The team said the study is the first to provide a convincing evidence of the link between gratitude and mental health. Earlier efforts failed to fully understand the effects of thankfulness, according to Ernst Bohlmeijer, a professor of positive mental health at the University of Twente in the Netherlands.

Bohlmeijer and his colleagues recruited 217 adults with low well-being and mild psychological problems to try a six-week program to develop their sense of gratitude. The team divided the participants into three groups that did either their gratitude exercises, five good things for themselves or stay on a waiting list, MedicalXpress reported Monday

Researchers asked the gratitude group to actively focus on feeling appreciative, expressing gratitude to others and on the positive effects of adversity. The participants did the exercises for about 10 to 15 minutes every day. 

They also used a gratitude journal and wrote positive things about their own lives. By the end of the six-week training, the group showed better sense of gratitude and sense of well-being compared to participants that did not take the exercises. 

Researchers said the effects of the gratitude training on well-being remained for up to six months after the training. The team published the findings in the Journal of Happiness Studies

"It is important to say that the idea is not to ignore negative experiences," Bohlmeijer said. "Acknowledging difficulties and psychological distress, while also appreciating the good things in life, is possible. In fact, that's the essence of psychological resilience." 

The team plans to launch a free app in September to help people build their sense of gratitude and improve mental health. They also hope to use the tool to help individuals who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

"We are very curious if the app also works for people who suffer from stress-related complaints due to the corona crisis," Bohlmeijer said. "Our research will have to confirm this."

Mental health Researchers from the Netherlands found that having a sense of gratitude could help people reduce the risk of psychological issues and increase mental resilience. Pixabay

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