How to Practice Gratitude when You’re Depressed 

By Amy Tai, Community and Justice Services (diploma), Program Assistant 

It has been said time and time again that practicing gratitude and counting one’s blessings can help boost your mood and decrease feelings of depression. But are those same benefits available to people who are struggling with mental health? The simple practice of gratitude can have a tremendous impact on one’s mental health and wellbeing. Research has shown that gratitude can act as a ‘natural antidepressant’ in that its effects can be almost the same as medications. The daily practice of gratitude produces a feeling of long-lasting happiness and contentment (Chowdhury, 2022).  

Gratitude doesn’t have to be a huge production of appreciation, which can be an extremely hard task for someone who is depressed and worn down. Instead, it can be helpful to start small. A study on gratitude and depression revealed that a single thought of appreciation can lead to an immediate 10 percent increase in happiness and a 35 percent reduction in depressive symptoms (Cal Y Mayor Galindo, 2021).  

So, how can we practice gratitude in a more practical and tangible way, especially when we find ourselves depressed and worn down? Here are three ways to get started: 

Appreciate yourself. As you stand in front of the mirror, tell yourself five positive things. These can be things you like about yourself, something you’re proud of accomplishing, something you’re good at, or a form of encouragement such as “You can do hard things”.  

  1. Gratitude meditation. Gratitude meditation is a simple, grounded strategy for reflecting on all the people, circumstances, and things for which we are truly grateful. When we practice gratitude meditation, we choose to pay attention to both the world (family, friends, etc.) and ourselves (accomplishments, skills, and feelings). This improves perspective, sharpens our vision, and almost immediately releases us from the weight of stress and burnout (Chowdhury, 2022).  
  1. Gratitude journal. Keeping a journal where you list all the people and things in your life for which you are grateful can significantly improve your mental health. Try to make this a daily practice and set aside some time each day, either in the morning or at night. It is also useful to look back and read previous entries, especially on days when you are finding it difficult to be grateful. 

Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so, let us all be thankful. -Buddha 


Cal Y Mayor Galindo, P. (2021, April 13). What Is Gratitude? 5 Ways to Practice Being Thankful. BetterUp. 

Chowdhury, R. B. M. A. (2022, August 2). The Neuroscience of Gratitude and How It Affects Anxiety & Grief. PositivePsychology.Com.,feel%20happy%20from%20the%20inside