I try to keep track of treatments for depression that keep coming across my radar. Keeping a gratitude journal was one of those treatments. It passed by my interest the first few times that I heard about it, but I kept hearing about it and it came to a point that I had to learn more about it. I also found it interesting that Oprah has kept a gratitude journal for a full decade.
A gratitude journal is simply a collection of writing that expresses what you are grateful for. I use the app, 365 Gratitude, to type out what I am grateful for rather than actually writing down my responses. The app is free and provides prompts and the space to write out 3 things that you are grateful for each day.
(1) 2 longitudinal studies looked at gratitude and the development of perceived social support, stress and depression. The first had 156 first-year college students. They were given questionnaires at the beginning and end of the semester. Over time, feelings of gratitude was shown to lead to higher levels of belonging and lower stress and depression. Study 2 had 87 patients aged 18-30 years old. Participants again completed measures at the start and end of the semester. Study 2 largely replicated the results of study 1.
The app has been a good way to reflect on the positives of the day. I also appreciate that it saves previous entries so that I am able to go back and see all the different entries that I created. It is also fast to do. Writing down 3 positives of the day takes me just a minute or two.
An example post of mine is:
1. I am grateful that I was able to ride my bike around the city.
2. I am grateful that I handled my on-call weekend well.
3. I am grateful for the perfect weather today.
The best part is that I find myself being thankful for the smallest of things that I wouldn’t have thought about otherwise. An example is that I woke up early one Saturday and was so thirsty. I walked a few feet to the sink and had a cool glass of water almost instantly. I thought about how thankful I was that I had water whenever I needed it. I feel that I am just slightly more positive since I had started gratitude journaling.
1. Wood A, Maltby J, Gillett R, et al. The role of gratitude in the development of social support, stress, and depression: Two longitudinal studies. The Journal of Research in Personality. Volume 42, Issue 4, August 2008, pages 854-871.