Tips from the expert: Gratitude diary: Psychologist talks about the sense and nonsense of the measure

According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), around 20 out of 100 people will suffer from depression or a chronic depressive mood at least once in their lives.

Tips from the expert: Gratitude diary: Psychologist talks about the sense and nonsense of the measure

According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), around 20 out of 100 people will suffer from depression or a chronic depressive mood at least once in their lives. And in Germany that is becoming apparent. At 9.2 percent, the proportion of depressive symptoms here is higher than the EU average - which is 6.6 percent. Only in Luxembourg, Sweden and Portugal are depressive symptoms more common among the population. Through mindfulness methods, such as keeping a gratitude journal, people want to promote their happiness. In the stern interview, graduate psychologist Christine Geschke reveals whether this is possible.

Geschke is a consultant and therapist in Hamburg. She studied psychology and neurology. Her focus is on clinical psychology and cognitive neuroscience. The therapist with her own practice in Hamburg-Eppendorf knows how people perceive and process environmental signals. She also knows who should stay away from gratitude journals.

Ms Geschke, we all know these bad days: They start with an unfortunate mishap, such as spilled coffee. And then the worm is often in there. One blunder after the other follows. Just not my day or imagination?

Geschke: One has the feeling that the worm is in there. The impression that everything is going wrong. And once that's there, you attribute everything to the negative attitude. Filters are placed over consciousness. And then only what is negative comes through. The positive is no longer registered. Although many positive events may happen.

And then a gratitude journal comes into play.

That would be a nice measure in this example. You could check in the evening if the day was really that bad. Sometimes it happens that one feels terribly unfairly treated by fate. A reality check in the gratitude journal can help. This is especially important these days. By constantly comparing yourself, for example via social media. Everyone only puts the best of themselves forward. You quickly get the impression that you are at a disadvantage yourself, that you don't feel as great as the others. And that creates dissatisfaction. It is precisely for these people that it is important to check and put things into perspective. Then you quickly realize: I'm actually not feeling so bad. This works under a certain condition.

Which one?

The prerequisite is that by becoming aware of the positive parts in life, one can put the balance sheet back in order. Sometimes that just can't happen. Namely when there are serious problems. In the worst case, it is trauma, strokes of fate, depression. And then it does not primarily help to turn to the positive. Then the whole thing runs the risk that the painful parts of life are not appreciated. Or not be taken seriously. And that's important.

Should people with mental illnesses stay away from the gratitude journal?

If someone is mentally ill or has serious problems, it doesn't help. Then you need professional support, for example psychotherapy. But it is a nice method to direct the view of slightly dissatisfied people back to the positive. It helps to perceive yourself and the outside world better. However, you should also be careful not to put yourself under pressure. It's easy to force yourself to be thankful by writing a gratitude journal. It's ok if that's not the case.

There are now professionally developed concepts. For example the 6-minute diary. However, if you just want to get started, you can sit down in the evening before bed and review the day. You could be aware of three specific situations for which you are grateful. These can also be simple connections. Maybe: that someone smiled at you; that something worked out; that you still got an appointment, although everything spoke against it. It can be such simple things that put a smile on your face. Or that give a positive feeling.

What about diaries where people write down their frustrations?

It can be recommended, but it doesn't have to be. You externalize what moves you internally. Means: You write down unpleasant things that have happened to you, take it out of yourself. At best, it no longer torments me internally. It is then written in black and white on a piece of paper. It's a relief process. And if you understand it that way, the negative journal can be useful.

How about you? Do you keep a gratitude journal?

I guess I often didn't have the time and sometimes didn't have the discipline to write something down regularly in the evening. That's why I've gotten into the habit of reviewing the day before I go to sleep and emphasizing the pleasant parts. Personally, that helps me enormously to fall asleep with a good feeling.

The telephone counseling service offers help. She can be reached anonymously, free of charge and around the clock on 0 800 / 111 0 111 and 0 800 / 111 0 222. Consultation via email is also possible. A list of nationwide help centers can be found on the website of the German Society for Suicide Prevention.

Source used: Robert Koch Institute

This article contains so-called affiliate links. Further information are available here.