Four Tips to Help You Feel Thankful—Beyond the Holidays

by Leah Murray, Director, Grateful Patient Program
December 7, 2018

The holiday season is a time in which we often share the things we are thankful for with our families and friends. However, there are many benefits to be had by sharing our gratitude all year round.

Regardless of what we might be going through, stopping to consider all the things you have to be grateful for can change your perspective on a scenario or change your whole mood. In fact, being thankful can help improve your:

  • Physical health, as people who are grateful report feeling healthier and have fewer aches and pains, according to a study published in Personality and Individual Differences.
  • Psychological health, as people saw improvements in depression and overall happiness after participating in an exercise that prompted them to think of three good moments or things that happened each day.
  • Relationships, as thanking new acquaintances makes you more likely to seek an ongoing relationship. Whether you give a coworker a thank-you note or thank them for holding the door, acknowledging their kindness can lead to new opportunities.
  • Sleep, as people who have more positive thoughts and less negative ones at bedtime fall asleep faster and have more restful sleep.
Feeling #Grateful can improve your physical health, relationships, sleep, and more. Discover three tips to help you reap these benefits. via @MedStarHealth

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How to Feel Grateful

Feeling grateful can be challenging with life’s twists and turns, such as when you’re stuck in rush-hour traffic or facing tight deadlines at work. Through the years, I have found three techniques to be the most effective in remaining thankful.

  1. Reflect on Small Moments

Throughout the day, make an effort to stop and feel grateful each time something positive happens to you. For example, after someone at work engaged with you to ask what the best part of your weekend was, take a moment afterward to appreciate their gesture.

Taking moments to identify what makes you feel good also can generate more feelings of gratitude. Each time something makes you feel good, think about why. This allows you to appreciate it more the next time a similar event occurs.

  1. Make Sure Others Know You’re Grateful

If the people around you don’t recognize your gratitude, how grateful can you really be? Make sure to let others know how thankful you are for their acts of kindness through sincere, verbal affirmations or small gifts. When we give thanks, it makes us feel better about ourselves.

  1. Write Down What You’re Thankful For

Writing out the things you are thankful for can go a long way toward feeling grateful. A good time to do this is each morning before you leave for work or before bed. However, if you have trouble finding time, consider doing it at work when you have downtime. Additionally, writing thank-you cards to colleagues, family, and friends is a good way to practice gratefulness.

  1. Accept Gestures or Expressions of Gratitude

Consider a gesture of gratitude as a gift and respond to it as such. I’ve found that responding positively to an expression of gratitude can positively impact a person’s experience. To accept gratitude, we can say “Thank you so much for saying that!” or “Thank you! That made my day,” as opposed to saying, “No problem” or “That’s okay. I was just doing my job.”

How Your Gratitude Can Help Others

I’ve heard or been a part of countless scenarios where someone is feeling down and someone else’s kindness picks them up. For example, when someone thanks their spouse for doing the dishes or picking up groceries after work, it can reduce any past resentment and make them feel appreciated. Expressing gratitude can also be beneficial in health care, helping to reduce burnout of a care provider, and overall, it can contribute to a more pleasant environment. Just think of all the people you can positively impact by simply making an effort to give thanks as often as possible.

The next time someone does something nice for you, you may want to return the favor or do something else kind in return either because you feel obligated to do so or you feel there’s an imbalance in the relationship. It’s often why we write thank-you notes, give a gift, or offer a kind gesture in return. An expression of gratitude is the first step we can take to find that balance again. Most importantly, feeling grateful has numerous benefits to our health and well-being. Consider these tips to help positively impact the lives of both you and the people around you.

Would you like to thank a MedStar Health associate for making a positive impact on your life or a loved one’s life?
Express your gratitude by sharing your story on the MedStar Health Facebook page using the hashtag #GratitudeMatters.

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