As we continue moving through this bizarre holiday season, I would like to give special attention to the importance of practicing gratitude.
Gratitude is not just a feeling, it's also an action that brings about positive biological change, and is particularly helpful during challenging times. It's more than being thankful, because it also involves a social relationship and a deeper appreciation that creates lasting positivity.
“Gratitude is a thankful appreciation for what an individual receives, whether tangible or intangible. With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives … As a result, gratitude also helps people connect to something larger than themselves as individuals – whether to other people, nature, or a higher power.” ~ Harvard Medical School
- improved mood
- deeper connections
- increased happiness and satisfaction with life
- less inflammation
- more optimistic outlook, leading to positive lifestyle choices
- improved sleep
- feeling part of something bigger
- better health outcomes (mind-body connection) - surgery recovery, heart problems, headaches, stomach upset, infections, etc.
- increased ability to reach goals
- higher self-esteem
- more resiliency
How to do it
- Keep a Gratitude journal
- write down three things every day that you are grateful for (it can be a sunset, your dog, clean water... )
- Notice how often you say "thank you"
- Acknowledge how far you've come and celebrate your wins
- Count how many things are going right
- Recognize when someone else does something nice for you and acknowledge it
- Use all of your senses to experience the world - touch, taste, smell, see, hear - especially in nature or when you are eating
- Practice saying something you are grateful for when you close your eyes at night or when you first wake up in the morning
- Write a letter to someone that has inspired or influenced you and send it out of the blue (a colleague of mine, Dr Jason Loken, has an initiative to have as many people as possible send gratitude letters beginning December 21st to help elevate the collective spirit, cool right?)
- Call your loved ones regularly - friends, siblings, grandparents, children, parents
- Do a random act of kindness or pay compliments to others
Regularly practicing gratitude keeps us centred and grounded, and it acknowledges our interconnected world. It helps to reduce feelings of fear and loss of control, and also scarcity because it's the antidote to always wanting more.
Even in tough times, there are things to be thankful for. Although, I deeply recognize that although we are all in the same storm, we're not in the same boat. This holiday season could be bringing up all kinds of emotions from loneliness, to loss of traditions, to relief of avoiding big gatherings, and also love, peace, and joy. Regardless, practicing gratitude will be helpful to you.
Today I am thankful for:
- reconnecting with true friends
- this morning's sunrise
- feta cheese on my salad today (a special treat)
My patients. This year has been incredible in so many ways, but I honestly could not have gotten through any of it without you. From the drive to keep going, to the distraction from everything else happening, to serving an important purpose in the world - from the bottom of my heart, thank you.
I wish you the very best holiday possible, and I look forward to seeing you soon. We will be open for virtual and in-person care.
"There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle."
~ Albert Einstein