Amanda Chan Deputy Editor November 24, 2014 (Photo by David Malan/Getty Images)
'Tis the season for those warm fuzzy feelings: Love, friendship, peace and, of course, gratitude. And turns out, there are a lot of good reasons to feel, and express, thanks — many of which benefit you.
Below are some things you may not have realized about gratitude, from its health benefits to need-to-know tips to maintaining a positive attitude. We hope they’ll inspire you to say “thank you” to a loved one today!
1. Writing down what you’re grateful for — yes, with a pen and paper — has been linked in research to a multitude of health benefits.
2. Materialistic people may have all the tangible “stuff,” but research shows they’re low in well-being. The reason: They lack gratitude.
3. Writing and delivering a thank you note can actually make you happier.
4. If you’re a manager, saying “thank you” to your employees could actually increase their motivation.
Related: What Your Personality Reveals About Your Health
5. For teens, gratitude could mean better behavior in school and higher levels of happiness and hopefulness, according to one study.
6. Gratitude could also have a positive effect on teens’ GPAs.
7. Keeping track of what you’re grateful for could make you feel more optimistic about the week ahead.
8. Having a grateful outlook on life could also help you be a better support to those in need.
9. Being appreciative of the little things your partner does can help your relationship thrive.
10. A good way to increase your feelings of gratitude is to embrace the setbacks you experience in life, according to leading gratitude researcher Robert Emmons, of the University of California, Davis.
11. In addition to keeping a gratitude journal, use visual reminders to help you remember to count your blessings.
12. Gratitude makes you a better team player and could even have effects against athlete burnout.
13. It will help you better manage stress (and even protect you against negative effects of stress).
14. You can turn your mindfulness meditation into an opportunity for gratitude by focusing on what you’re thankful for.
15. Gratitude has positive effects on the brain, including mood neurotransmitters and hormones that are key to social bonding.
16. It helps us go against our natural tendency to let the “bad” outweigh the “good” in our lives.
17. Gratitude can also help you sleep better.
18. Even though a grateful temperament is, to some extent, genetic, you can cultivate gratitude through experience and behavior.
19. If you want to boost your gratitude, think about your lifewithout something — chances are, you’ll then feel more grateful for that thing.
20. Vow to be grateful, as it will increase the likelihood you’ll actually do it.
Laura KenneyManaging Editor, Yahoo HealthNovember 24, 2014 (Photo by Getty Images)
"You should talk to someone," could be the most important five words you say to a loved one who is depressed and thinking of suicide.
A large longitudinal study has found that talk therapy can cut the risk of suicide by more than 25 percent. Talk therapy, another name for psychotherapy, is a proven way to treat depression. The most common types of talk therapy are cognitive-behavioral therapy, or CBT, which focuses on how negative thought patterns affect mood, and interpersonal therapy, which looks at how you relate to others.
In the study, which was published in Lancet Psychiatry, researchers analyzed Danish health data from more than 65,000 people in Denmark who attempted suicide between Jan. 1, 1992 and Dec. 31, 2010. Of that group, they looked at 5,678 people who received psychosocial therapy at one of eight suicide prevention clinics. The researchers then compared their outcomes over time with 17,304 people who had attempted suicide and looked similar on 31 factors but had not gone for treatment afterward. Participants were followed for up to 20 years.
Related: 1 in 5 Americans Live With a Mental Illness
The results: During the first year, those who received therapy were 27 percent less likely to attempt suicide again. After five years, there were 26 percent fewer suicides in the group that had been treated following their attempt. After 10 years, the suicide rate for those who had therapy was 229 per 100,000 compared to 314 per 100,000 in the group that did not get the treatment.
While it isn’t necessarily surprising that counseling would help suicides, there had not been much research to support whether or not a specific psychological treatment is working. This is the first large, high-quality study to offer evidence that talk therapy can decrease suicide rates.
"We know that people who have attempted suicide are a high-risk population and that we need to help them. However, we did not know what would be effective in terms of treatment,” says the study’s leader, Annette Erlangsen, DPH, an adjunct associate professor in the Department of Mental Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, in a press release. “Now we have evidence that psychosocial treatment – which provides support, not medication – is able to prevent suicide in a group at high risk of dying by suicide."
Related: Depression Is The Number One Health Risk For Successful Women
Study co-author Elizabeth A. Stuart, PhD, an associate professor in the Bloomberg School’s Department of Mental Health, says that before this, it was not possible to determine whether a specific suicide prevention treatment was working. “It isn’t ethical to do a randomized study where some get suicide prevention therapy while others don’t,” Stuart says. Since the Danish clinics were rolled out slowly and participation was voluntary, and extensive long-term follow-up data were available on such a large group of people, the researchers had an ethical way to gather the information they needed.
"Our findings provide a solid basis for recommending that this type of therapy be considered for populations at risk for suicide," says Stuart.
Sometimes negatives start swirling around our heads and end up looking like a big tangle- a giant scribble filling up our heads. Putting our stresses, concerns, fears, and hurts into words helps to sort, organize, and arrange them to the point where they are easier to understand and more tangible to handle. It also makes them smaller.
As the holidays approach, many of us find ourselves stressed, weary, sad, impatient... insert your struggle here. Take a minute to write down any words that best describe what you have in your head. For example:
Now, think of a word that is the perfect opposite of each one you just wrote down. Make sure it fits for you exactly, like this:
When you can't get past what's going wrong, find the opposite and set it up like a target in your life. Let those opposing opposites fight back. Then think solution-focused: What do you need to do more or less of to get those positive feelings? Who do you need to be around, or maybe see less of? What expectations for yourself or others can you rewrite?