The month of November is a time when many of us gather with our family and friends to celebrate Thanksgiving. This year may be quite different with the unfortunate Covid-19 messing up travel plans and large group gatherings. Staying positive and grateful this year will have a remarkable effect on your mind, body, and spirit. You may not have given this much thought, but being thankful actually has many mental health benefits. Studies have shown that people who regularly express gratitude tend to have lower rates of stress and depression and live overall happier lives.
Recognizing all you have to be thankful for – even during the worst times of your life – fosters resilience.
Expressing gratitude can:
- Improve your overall mood and encourage an optimistic outlook. Research confirms that gratitude effectively increases happiness and reduces depression.
- Enrich social relationships and build social supports. Not only does saying “thank you” constitute good manners, but also showing appreciation can help you win new friends. Therefore, whether you thank a stranger for holding the door or send a thank-you note to that colleague who helped you with a project, acknowledging other people’s contributions can lead to new opportunities.
- Enhance empathy and reduce aggression. Grateful people are more likely to behave in a prosocial manner, even when others behave less kindly. Grateful people are less likely to retaliate against others and experience more sensitivity and empathy toward other people. It also causes a decreased desire to seek revenge.
- Improve sleep. Spend just 15 minutes jotting down a few grateful sentiments before bed, and you may sleep better and longer.
- Improve physical health. Grateful people experience fewer aches and pains and report feeling healthier than others. Not surprisingly, grateful people are also more likely to take care of their health. They exercise more often and are more likely to attend regular check-ups, which is likely to contribute to further longevity.
- Give hope. Research shows that focusing on the positive can boost our mood more than we expect, which in turn produces hope for the future.
- Allow us to ground ourselves. Remembering what is going well in my life and being grateful for the good things in my life reminds me there is still good in a world full of chaos and struggles.
- Increase mental strength. For years, research has shown gratitude not only reduces stress, but it may also play a major role in overcoming trauma.
Ways you can cultivate gratitude:
- Express your gratitude. Thank or compliment someone. Let them know you think they did something well or that you like something about them. Speak the words!
- Write a thank you note. Showing appreciation nurtures relationships and helps to foster a healthy sense of self-esteem for both the sender and receiver.
- Write a letter, email or post of gratitude. Why not take the time to brainstorm the things you are grateful for and then put pen to paper, or fingers to the keyboard and express it.
- Give a gift of gratitude. A gratitude gift might be something of material value but it does not need to be. A thoughtful and personal show of gratitude can be worth its weight in gold.
- Be a support system.
- Encourage others.
- Include others.
- Visit others. There is nothing like a face-to-face visit to express your gratitude. The gesture of going out of your way to tell someone how much you appreciate them is enough for everyone to feel the benefits.
- Be there.
- Keep a blessing journal. Reflect on your blessings. Make a habit of recognizing blessings and writing them in your blessing journal at the end of every day.
- Demonstrate gratitude. Make eye contact, practice being patient, a better listener, and be kind.
- Be gracious when challenged.
- Share in other’s joy.
- Perform random acts of kindness. Pay it forward.
- Be respectful and treat others with the level of courtesy you would like to receive.
As we approach the holiday of Thanksgiving, we’d like to say – Thank You! Thank you for the opportunity to provide support to the children and teens with special needs in Chester County. CCRN is grateful for the work we are able to do, and to make a difference in these students lives.
We wish each and every one of our schools, staff, and students, many blessings this school year.