When we’re feeling a little flat, research suggests that there are simple but effective things we can do to help improve our wellbeing and boost our mental health. In the first blog post of this series, we look at how simply expressing gratitude to others may be one such strategy – and it takes little time or effort too…
How often do you thank your family, friends, colleagues or even total strangers for simple kindnesses or things they do to support you or help you out? Well, if you are anything like me, probably not often enough...
However, research suggests that regularly thanking others for things we are grateful for may actually help promote wellbeing, combating negative emotions and boosting our mood - and giving thanks doesn't need to be face-to-face either.
In a relatively large study conducted in the U.S. last year, Lisa Walsh and her colleagues found that frequently expressing gratitude to others - whether via an unsent letter, one-to-one private text message, or a public post on social media – was linked to significant increases in personal happiness and life satisfaction, whilst emotions such as anger/hostility or feeling down decreased.
Additionally, study participants reported feeling less lonely and more connected to others - factors associated with better mental health. This was especially apparent for people who sent one-to-one private messages of gratitude, suggesting that this method may have a particularly beneficial effect.
It is important to note that, like many psychology studies, this research involved only university students, so it can’t be assumed that the findings will be helpful for everyone. But saying thank you takes little time or effort and costs nothing too - so if, as research suggests, it will help improve your wellbeing when you're feeling low, there is nothing to lose from giving it a go.
Walsh, L.C., Regan, A., Twenge, J.M. and Lyubomirsky, S (2022) ‘What is the Optimal Way to Give Thanks? Comparing the Effects of Gratitude Expressed Privately, One-to-One via Text, or Publicly on Social Media’, Affective Science. Published online 11 October 2022. https://doi.org/10.1007/s42761-022-00150-5.