Wall of Gratitude will highlight what Sheffield is grateful for

People will be asked to write three things they are grateful for
People will be asked to write three things they are grateful for

A wall of gratitude will give people in Sheffield a chance to highlight some of the things they are most grateful for and help improve their mental health.

It will be built using ‘gratitude’ blocks, that each display a personal message, and created as part of the Festival of the Mind.

Dr Chris Blackmore and Dr Fuschia Sirios from the University of Sheffield with the wall of gratitude

Dr Chris Blackmore and Dr Fuschia Sirios from the University of Sheffield with the wall of gratitude

The project, which is being created by researchers at the University of Sheffield, encourages people to take notice of things around them which they are grateful for and share them on a temporary wall for others to view in the Millenium Gallery.

It is hoped the wall could be used as a tool to help improve people’s mental health and wellbeing.

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The Festival of Mind is a unique city-wide festival which academies from the University of Sheffield  will be showcasing some of their latest pioneering research to the public by collaborating with others from the cultural, creative and digital industries.

Dr Fuschia Sirios with some of the gratitude bricks

Dr Fuschia Sirios with some of the gratitude bricks

Doctor Fuschia Sirois from the university’s department of psychology is leading the project and said: “Research has found that taking the time to notice three things to be grateful for each day over a two week period can have beneficial effects for people’s wellbeing that can last for up to six months.

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“People who invest time in being more grateful usually enjoy better quality sleep because they have fewer negative sleep disturbing thoughts before they go to bed and they also experience lower levels of stress and depression, even amongst those who live with painful chronic health conditions.”

She added: “Life can be extremely challenging, but we hope that the wall of gratitude in Sheffield will help people to think about the things in their life that are positive, which can then be harnessed to help improve their mental health and wellbeing.

“A unique aspect of the Wall of Gratitude is that it allows you to see what other people are grateful for as well as share your own ‘three good things’.

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“Sometimes it’s hard to remember all that we can be grateful for, and reading about what others are grateful for can be a good reminder of the positive things in life that we can be thankful for.”

Some of the messages will also be projected onto some of the city's landmarks during the festival and will be available on a website for people to view and share.

Researchers from the project are also inviting people to submit messages of gratitude in a variety of languages to represent Sheffield’s diverse international population, including Polish and Chinese.

Doctor Chris Blackmore, from the university’s school of health and related research, who is also a researcher on the project, said: “There is an emerging body of research which suggests that an expression of gratitude can have a number of benefits for people’s health and wellbeing, which include helping people to build stronger relationships within their family and friendship groups.

“Gratitude is universally seen as an expression of thanks, but it can vary between different cultures.

“We’re hoping that as well as being a tool that people can use to help improve their mental health and wellbeing, the wall will also help us to highlight, appreciate and understand the range of expressions of gratitude from people of different languages and cultures.”

The Wall of Gratitude will be on display for people to view and contribute to at the Futurecade, Millennium Gallery, from September 20 – 27.