FEATUREDMental Health

Gratitude and Mental Health

As we approach the season of giving and gratitude, many people start to think about what they are grateful for in their lives as they plan their holiday shopping and family gatherings. While it’s nice to count your blessings for the big events like a wedding, a graduation, or the birth of a new baby, practicing gratitude for the small things in life has benefits all year round.

Having an ‘attitude of gratitude’ by focusing on the positives in life like a warm sunny day, a clean house, or a job well done, increases happiness which in turn decreases stress. Even taking the time to appreciate a good cup of coffee has many mental health benefits such as relieving stress and improving your mood.

Our daily lives are often full of stress and we let our small achievements go unnoticed. Think about the past few days, what have you accomplished? Did you cook a delicious meal, start a new book or help a friend? Take a moment to celebrate that, to express gratitude for those accomplishments. Sometimes, simply getting out of bed can be cause for celebration!

Making gratitude part of your daily routine can help your brain to focus on the good things and become more resilient when things don’t go as planned. When something bad or unexpected happens it won’t impact us as much because we are able to recover more easily by shifting our focus to the positive instead of dwelling on the negative, we then recover more quickly from negative events. Very much like an athlete who conditions his body will recover from injury, we can condition our minds to recover from stress and anxiety.

Studies have found that a single act of thoughtful gratitude produces an immediate increase in happiness and a reduction in depressive symptoms. These effects eventually disappear but incorporating gratitude as part of our daily lives prolongs the effects of those feelings of happiness. Add a trip to the thrift store to your weekly routine to donate some of the items you no longer use and then celebrate having a tidy home. Write a kind note to a friend, leave an anonymous gift for someone to brighten their day. Acts of kindness shown to others increase your feelings of gratitude for what you have.

Practicing gratitude has proven to lead to a more positive outlook on life, increased optimism improves social bonds and feelings of connectivity which lessens the likelihood of isolation and decreases depression. People who actively express gratitude tend to be more engaged in activities to take care of their physical health, like eating well and exercising. This leads to higher energy levels, better sleep and a stronger immune system and the ability to fight off illness or infection.

Practicing gratitude is one small way you can tend to your emotional wellbeing and mental wellness each and every day.

If you or a loved one are struggling with mental health challenges, professional help is available. Valeo’s Crisis Center is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for walk-in mental health emergencies. It is located at 400 SW Oakley Avenue. You can also call the Valeo Crisis Line, available 24 hours a day, at 785-234-3300.

T. Nicole Passafume, CPS TTS

Health Promotion Specialist, Valeo Behavioral Health Care


Valeo Behavioral Health Care



Crisis Services         

400 SW Oakley, Topeka, KS  66606

24 Hour Crisis Line: 785-234-3300


National Suicide Prevention Life Line



Shawnee County Suicide Prevention Coalition



Family Service and Guidance Center  (18 and under)

325 SW Frazier, Topeka, KS  66606

24 Hour Crisis Number: 785-232-5005


Healing after Loss to Suicide Group  (HeALS)

Sandy Reams – Group Facilitator