Learn how gratitude is more than just a good feeling.

Now that the leftovers in the fridge are all that remain of Thanksgiving 2021, let us not neglect the practice of gratitude for the next 11 months. Why is this important? Developments in research support that gratitude has significant psychological, physical, and social benefits. Gratitude has been linked to reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression, enhanced mood, and increased positive emotions and thoughts. It has also been found to be an effective coping strategy for caregivers or individuals who have experienced a traumatic event or life change. Physical improvements include reduced stress response and pain and improved blood pressure, glycemic control, immune response, and sleep quality. From a neuroscience perspective, gratitude increases the happy brain chemicals, regulates the stress hormones, increases activation of the bliss centers of the brain, and promotes cognitive restructuring. Research also suggests that adopting gratitude practices can promote better communication, empathy, healthier relationships, team dynamics, and workplace efficiency and productivity. Communicating thankfulness to others promotes relationship bonding and connection. With all this evidence, why would we not want to tap into this wellness super power?

Let us strive to cultivate a lifestyle of gratitude all year round with these practical tips:

  • Speak with Gratitude: This first starts with you by incorporating gratitude in your self talk. Complement yourself out loud with your strengths that are valuable and meaningful to you. Extend this to others including your loved ones, coworkers, and even physical things that make your life easier. The words you speak are important, so make efforts to align your speech with your gratitude efforts. This will enhance your self image as well as your personal and professional relationships.
  • Write a Thank You Letter-  Identify one or a few people who have significantly impacted your life, and write them a letter that explains how they have specifically contributed to your happiness, success, and well being. You can take this a step further and instead invite them out to lunch to thank them in person with quality time and delicious food. 
  • Keep a Gratitude Journal– Place a journal on your nightstand in which you list 3 things you are thankful for each morning or evening. Do an experiment and consistently write in your journal each day for 3 weeks straight and then see if you notice a difference in your mood, happiness, stress, and/ or sleep.
  • Meditate– One effective strategy to include gratitude in your day is by incorporating it in your practice of meditation, mindfulness, and/ or prayer. Preparing yourself with deep breathing, can improve your ability to focus on what you are grateful for. These practices can be more effective when combined together. 
  • Awareness: Actively look for things to be grateful for. Although the difficulties of life demand your attention, choose to see the good. This encourages your ability to be resilient no matter what life throws your way and helps you to see that even in the hardest times there are reasons to smile.

Have you found strategies that help you and your family to keep a focus on gratitude throughout the year? Share with us your strategies and tips below!

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