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National Gratitude Month 2021: Why focusing on the positive helps improve physical and mental well-being

Gratitude’s amazing powers can shift us from focusing on the negative to appreciating what is positive in our lives. Taking the time to remember all the things to be thankful for—especially during the pandemic—that simple act of gratitude, of appreciating the good in our lives, and those around us, can help improve physical, emotional, and mental health. And with November being #NationalGratitudeMonth, it is a nice reminder that the simple act of taking the time to be thankful can help improve our lives.

The quality of being thankful improves physical and mental well-being.

“Gratitude erases negativity. Every time you think “this isn’t my day,” stop for a second,  and start going over in your mind everything you have to be grateful for,” said Glenn….. “Think about everything you already have, not everything you want. What most of us have is substantial, we just haven’t gone over the list and taken inventory lately. This approach can help us appreciate what we do have.”

Glenn MacFarlane, President

Research has shown that gratitude can enhance our moods, decrease stress, and drastically improve our overall level of health and well-being. On average, grateful people tend to have fewer stress-related illnesses and experience less depression and lower blood pressure.

They are also more physically fit, happier, more financially well-off, more satisfied with their personal and professional relationships, and better liked. Children that express gratitude are even more likely to get A’s in school!1,2,3

The book “The Gratitude Project explores how gratitude can rewire the brain, which can lead to physical benefits. And it may not matter whether you give thanks to another person or to a higher power to reap some benefit. A study from Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine reports that spirituality may improve the health-related quality of life among adults who suffer from neurological illness.

Recognizing the “Why”

Finding reasons to give thanks may only be a matter of recognizing each act and instance in our lives where thanks is warranted.

Here are three simple things you can do to practice gratitude during Gratitude Month:

  1. Start a journal and write about something you are thankful for.
  2. Share your gratitude with others.
  3. Appreciate good things.

Following these steps can lead to a greater sense of happiness, which can improve family and work lives. So, as you sit down for Thanksgiving dinner, try to give thanks. It may go a long way toward a happier and healthier new year.

Sources:
1. https://namica.org/blog/the-impact-of-gratitude-on-mental-health/
2. https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/giving-thanks-can-make-you-happier
3. https://www.nationwidechildrens.org/family-resources-education/700childrens/2020/05/gratitude


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