Gratitude Letters: Improving your Wellbeing during COVID-19
What is gratitude?
Expressing gratitude is one activity that allows you to take notice of your current thoughts and feelings and instantly boost your happiness and life satisfaction. This involves showing appreciation and thankfulness for someone or something, such as a friend or family member, walking in nature, or discovering your new favourite book! Researchers have noted that 40% of our happiness results from intentional activities (with our genetics and circumstances making up the other 60%). One intentional activity that has been found to have a positive impact on wellbeing is writing a letter of gratitude to a significant person in your life.
What are the benefits of writing gratitude letters?
In one study, 44 university students were asked to write three gratitude letters over 8-weeks, with a focus on reflection, expressive writing, and meaningful content. Students were advised to write about something significant that caused them to feel gratitude towards a person, as opposed to simply writing thank you for materialistic items. In comparison to students who did not engage in this activity, the act of letter writing enhanced feelings of happiness and gratitude and continued to improve them with each letter written. From this, we can see that writing letters of gratitude allowed the students to take notice of their emotions and create a positive change in their life, even when they spent only 10-15 minutes on each letter!
How can I write a gratitude letter?
Begin by thinking of a person who has had a positive impact on your life. This may be a family member, friend, partner, or colleague. Take some time to reflect on what this person has done for you and why you feel grateful for their actions. Next, write your letter to this person, following the steps outlined below:
• Address the person directly (“Dear…”).
• Describe what this person has done for you and the influence they have had on your life – be
• Focus on the positive emotions you feel as a result of their actions and how appreciative you
• Aim to spend 10-15 minutes writing your letter.
• Don’t worry too much about spelling or grammar!
• Sign your name at the end of your letter.
If your letter is addressed to a member of your household, take the time to sit down and read your
letter aloud to them. Notice their reaction, discuss your feelings, and allow them to keep the letter
once you are finished. Alternatively, due to the COVID-19 restrictions, you could arrange a phone or
video call with the recipient and give them their letter to keep at a later time.
By Natasha Heath