How to get through the pandemic day by day? Focus on gratitude.
To be honest, I felt quite discouraged and low last week when the Swiss and Austrian governments respectively announced to keep the semi-lockdown going for many weeks to come. In my family and circle of friends we have got 5 birthdays in the beginning of May, out of which one is going to be my dad’s 70th birthday. Most probably the extension of the Corona-induced protective measures will make it impossible for me to celebrate with the people I love.
However, as I am writing this article, I am sitting on the shores of Lac Léman in the beautiful village of Saint-Prex while enjoying the warmth of the first rays of the spring sun on my skin as I am listening to the sound of the waves. I do truly feel grateful for this moment. I feel gratitude for having a place to live that has so much beauty, friendly people and where I feel safe.
I am not telling you this to show off. More than anything, I am writing these words to myself. They help me remind myself of the relationships, things and places I hold dearly in my life. They give me back a sense of positivity, optimism and peace. In times like these, where many of us are coming across feelings of uncertainty, stress and helplessness, pausing, reflecting and writing down very specifically 3 -5 things, people, places you are grateful for every day can really help you keep your head above the water. Research conducted by Emmons and McCullough or Leah Dickens in the field of positive psychology suggests that people who keep a gratitude diary on a daily basis over the course of 21 days
reported feeling better physically and emotionally
were more likely to attain their goals
showed more pro-social behaviour
had improved sleep quality
Given the benefits vs. the very low (all it takes is a pen, a little diary and 5 min of your time, ideally before you go to bed) cost, why not try it out?
I would love to hear your findings in a comment on the blog here.
What are the potential boundaries of gratitude letters in a therapeutic setting?
Based on my experience, gratitude diaries or gratitude letters may be suitable for some clients in a coaching or counseling setting as it has the potential to enrich the relationship to self and the "other". However, there should still be enough space in the therapeutic setting to allow for strong, transformative emotions like anger or frustration to surface. I would personally be hesitant to suggest the usage of gratitude diaries for people suffering from severe depression, but would trust that the quality of relationship between therapist and client would be the "true north" when talking about the possibility.