Giving the Gift of Gratitude

The holidays are quickly approaching, which means it’s time to start thinking about giving gifts and spreading kindness. One of the best gifts we can give is that of gratitude. Gratitude, or the quality of being thankful, is something we can give without spending money, and can be just as beneficial for the giver as it is for the receiver, if not more so!

We are all familiar with how we can show gratitude for others – saying “thank you,” paying it forward, showing a random act of kindness – but we often overlook showing gratitude for our own health and well-being. Recent studies show that being grateful can improve our health, relieve depression, and broaden the mind. Experiencing positive emotions, as opposed to negative ones, leads to optimal levels of well-being, emotional wellness, and resilience.

While the “power of positive thinking” may not fix everything, it can certainly help. Acknowledging the good doesn’t mean denying the bad. Expressing gratitude for yourself can help you become more resilient, while also boosting your mood. When you feel good about yourself, others can feed off that. In addition, spreading gratitude into the world is infectious. Think of a smile – when you see someone smiling, you often smile back, don’t you? Put kindness, gratitude, and positivity out there, and you might just get it back!

Fun Fact: World Kindness Day is November 15th! Be kind to yourself and others!

Here are some ways to show gratitude and kindness for your own health and wellness:

Take a mindful walk. Spending time in nature can improve mood and memory, reduce stress, and increase levels of compassion. While on your nature walk, take in all the sights, sounds and smells around you!

Start a gratitude journal. Expressive writing can help process negative events and emotions but can also help focus on the positive ones. Becoming more aware of what you have can make you more resilient to stress and hardships. Start by making a list of the 5 things you are grateful for every day – your health, your family, your surroundings, etc.

Try a new exercise class or activity. Challenging your cognitive and physical wellness is a fantastic way to celebrate and honor yourself. What better way to show gratitude for yourself than to push to new limits? Try taking a new exercise class, learn a new skill or language, or a participate in a new activity such as wood working, gardening, playing cards or painting.

Do something for YOU! It’s easy, especially around the holidays, to get wrapped up in ensuring everyone else’s needs are highlighted. An important way of showing gratitude for yourself: Make sure you are carving out time for YOU!! This might look different for everyone – maybe it’s taking time to practice meditation, read your favorite book, walk outside, or spend time with your loved ones. Whatever it is, make sure you dedicate time for yourself.

Whatever method you choose, expressing gratitude is a win-win for your emotional and physical health and wellness! For more information on how you can improve kindness to your body and mind, contact the Functional Pathways Therapy Team!

Just as water lilies retract when sunlight fades, so do our minds when positivity fades”