As the holiday season comes in full swing, it can be easy to immerse ourselves into the high expectation of festivities and excitement. However, this time of year can be increasingly difficult for those facing anxiety, depression, and sadness. Research has shown that the effects of gratitude during Thanksgiving time can actually lift the spirits of those with these emotions, as it reminds them of the value of gratefulness.
Gratitude is showing thanks and appreciation for what a person receives- tangible or intangible. This helps folks acknowledge the goodness that is in their lives, and typically helps people recognize that the source of this goodness lies (at least partially) outside themselves. This sense of something greater than themselves helps people connect to the world around them. Psychologists at the University of California, the University of Miami, the University of Pennsylvania, and others have done numerous studies on the effects of gratitude- all of which support the association between gratitude and individual well-being. There are many ways to cultivate gratitude including:
-Writing a thank-you note
-Thanking someone mentally
-Keeping a gratitude journal
-Counting your blessings
-Praying, for those with religious beliefs
Showing gratitude can help open the door to more relationships because it allows for ongoing communication. Those that show gratitude are also more likely to have better physical health, as shown in a 2012 study published in Personality and Individual Differences. This is partially because those that show gratitude are more likely to attend regular check-ups and take better care in living a healthy lifestyle. Gratitude also improves mental health by reducing stress, overcoming trauma, empathy enhancement, aggression reduction, and improved self-esteem.
This holiday season, make sure to take time out to practice gratitude and show appreciation. Murray County Medical Center is having a gratitude installation in their lobby throughout the month of November for staff, patients, and guests to share what they are grateful for.