Cultivating gratitude, year-round, can help improve immunity, work-life balance and wellness. It’s normal to count your blessings when celebrating Thanksgiving with family and friends. In the new normal, when the Centers for Disease Control is advising us to stay home to stop the spread of COVID-19, one of the most powerful tools for staying optimistic is gratitude.
“Trying to see the bright side of difficult circumstances is beneficial for your mental and physical health,” said Julie Arnold, LMSW, Holland Hospital Behavioral Health Services. “Tapping into positive thinking can help you problem solve and be more creative, strengthen your immune system and build resilience.”
Here are five ways to get started:
1. Give yourself some grace.
With so many new challenges thrown at us, nobody is at their best right now. If you’re not feeling particularly grateful, don’t be too hard on yourself. It’s normal to experience a range of emotions during this time. Give yourself time to process them, at your own pace.
2. Keep it simple.
When it comes to expressing gratitude, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Jot down a few small things that make you smile throughout the day. It could be as simple as noting the sun shining on your face, appreciating a home-cooked meal or sharing some laughs with a friend over FaceTime.
3. Show some love to our front-line heroes.
Say thank you or show your gratitude to food service, pharmacy, health care and other workers who are putting their own safety at risk to provide care and service to others. Make a sign for your front lawn, donate personal protective equipment or have food delivered to an essential worker. One of the most important ways you can thank those who are sacrificing so much is staying home as much as possible and following social distancing guidelines.
4. Tell your loved ones how you feel, at home or through video chat.
Family and friends matter most. Let your loved ones know how much they mean to you.
5. Take good care of you.
Eat well, exercise and try to get quality sleep. Go outside to enjoy a little fresh air, relax with some yoga or meditation, kick back with a book or watch your favorite Netflix show. Be gentle with yourself and do something every day just for you.
6. Practice gratitude year-round and improve psychological health.
Gratitude reduces a multitude of toxic emotions, ranging from envy, fear and resentment to frustration and regret. Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D., a leading gratitude researcher, has conducted multiple studies on the link between gratitude and well-being. His research confirms that gratitude effectively increases happiness and reduces depression.
Remember, life will return to normal, even if it’s a new kind of normal. In the meantime, practicing gratitude can help you cope, increase your immunity, boost your peace of mind and help family, friends and colleagues. In a time where there are many things we can’t control, we all have the ability and opportunity to cultivate gratitude. Simply take a few moments to focus on all that you have and develop an attitude of gratitude.