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In Large Study, Gratitude Found To Improve Mood + Decrease Anxiety & Depression

Sarah Regan
August 28, 2023
Sarah Regan
mbg Spirituality & Relationships Editor
By Sarah Regan
mbg Spirituality & Relationships Editor
Sarah Regan is a Spirituality & Relationships Editor, and a registered yoga instructor. She received her bachelor's in broadcasting and mass communication from SUNY Oswego, and lives in Buffalo, New York.
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Image by Studio Firma x mbg Creative / Stocksy
August 28, 2023
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There's no shortage of things we can do to decrease stress and anxiety, and improve mental health. One of those oft-suggested things is a gratitude practice—but how effective is that, really, for improving mental health? Quite, according to a large new meta-analysis out of Brazil published in the journal Einstein1. Here's what they found.

Studying the effects of gratitude

For this meta-analysis, researchers wanted to dig into the existing studies and evidence on gratitude as it relates to mental health benefits. To do so, they conducted a systematic literature search on gratitude studies, identifying over 60 randomized clinical trials to look at further.

And based on their findings (and the cumulative findings of all those other studies), it would appear gratitude is, indeed, effective for improving mental health.

Namely, the researchers found, participants who underwent gratitude interventions experienced greater feelings of gratitude, better mental health, and fewer symptoms of anxiety and depression. Moreover, the study authors add, they experienced other benefits like a more positive mood and positive emotions.

"The results demonstrate that acts of gratitude can be used as a therapeutic complement for treating anxiety and depression, and can increase positive feelings and emotions in the general population," the study authors write.

How to practice gratitude in your life

There's never a bad reason to seek out more gratitude in your life, and the good news, it's a simple and accessible practice that anyone can do.

As licensed psychologist Snehal Kumar Ph.D. previously explained to mindbodygreen, gratitude is "the practice of making space for appreciation," and can include appreciation for the experiences, people, and things in your life, but gratitude can also be rooted in an appreciation of the self.

It's an act of self-love to be grateful for who you are, whether you practice gratitude through journaling, making gratitude jars, or simply looking out for moments of joy and gratitude (AKA glimmers) as you go about your day.

And of course, when you are living in a place of gratitude, it ripples out to the people in your life when you share that gratitude with them. Think writing letters of appreciation to loved ones, giving your waitress an extra-generous tip, or smiling at strangers on the street.

The takeaway

Like so many things in life, gratitude tends to be a matter of perspective, and there is always something to be grateful for if you keep your eyes open. And according to this research, when you get into the habit of finding gratitude, your mental health can dramatically improve.

Sarah Regan author page.
Sarah Regan
mbg Spirituality & Relationships Editor

Sarah Regan is a Spirituality & Relationships Editor, a registered yoga instructor, and an avid astrologer and tarot reader. She received her bachelor's in broadcasting and mass communication from State University of New York at Oswego, and lives in Buffalo, New York.