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Giving Thanks Is Good Medicine

Giving Thanks Is Good Medicine

By SMH Clinical Counselor Elizabeth Bornstein

Did you know that expressing gratitude is actually good for your health?

Countless studies agree that people who feel thankful and have a regular gratitude practice are more likely to:

  • Cope more effectively with anxiety.
  • More easily overcome challenges in their lives.
  • Feel better, brighter and more joyful.
  • Take better care of themselves, which leads to better health outcomes.

While it can be hard to feel grateful when times are tough, it’s always important that we make space for gratitude and that we actively appreciate what brightens our days.

No matter what's happening around you and no matter how challenging things are, there is always opportunity to find something you're thankful for. And having an attitude of gratitude will actually make you feel better, brighter and more optimistic.

Give thanks for a little, and you will find a lot.~ Hausa proverb

’Tis the Season of Gratitude

As we move into the 2023 holiday season, it’s a great opportunity to reflect on what we’re grateful for, what means the most to us and to give thanks.

Completing a "What I'm Thankful For" inventory is a worthy task. Not only can practicing gratitude yield mental and physical health benefits for you, it can also improve the well-being of those around you - think of it as the "must have" gift to give this holiday.

Like mindfulness, practicing gratitude helps shift the mind into a more peaceful state, which reduces stress and lowers blood pressure. It can also help deepen our relationships, with ourselves and with others.

Ease into your gratitude practice with the simple exercise below; then use the shortcuts that follow to squeeze this new healthy habit into your everyday, no matter how busy you are.

Getting Started

Pause, take a deep breath, focus and reflect. Then ask yourself these questions:

  • How am I doing?
  • What is challenging?
  • What do I need?
  • What is going well?
  • What am I grateful for?

Getting Your Daily Dose

  • Take a wellness moment or brain break, and really appreciate the opportunity.A journal lies open to a fresh page with “Today I Am Grateful For” written at the top.
  • Start your day by taking a moment to focus on something that’s meaningful to you.
  • Create affirmations you can say to yourself (silently or aloud) about what is good or going well in your life.
  • Keep a gratitude journal.
  • Pay it forward: Connect with those you care about, and tell them how much you appreciate them.

“Whatever we are waiting for — peace of mind, contentment, grace, the inner awareness of simple abundance — it will surely come to us, but only when we are ready to receive it with an open and grateful heart.” ~ Best-selling author & philanthropist Sarah Ban Breathnach

Explore Further

When it comes to practicing gratitude, online resources abound. However, here are some websites we've found helpful and worth your time to explore further:

Calm.comElizabeth Bornstein, MSSA, LCSW, OSW-C, APHSW-C

A licensed, oncology and advanced palliative- and hospice-certified clinical social worker, Elizabeth Bornstein, MSSA, LCSW, OSW-C, APHSW-C, oversees and provides oncology counseling at Sarasota Memorial's Brian D. Jellison Cancer Institute. She has advanced training in mind-body medicine and expressive arts, and has facilitated oncology counseling for nearly two decades.

Posted: Nov 21, 2023,
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