By Lauren DelGandio
The season of gratitude and celebration are quickly upon us. For many, this time of year can feel overwhelming, particularly if you are struggling through a recent cancer diagnosis or are in active treatment. It can be difficult to “get into the holiday spirit” or to be constantly surrounded by “holiday cheer,” especially when much in your life may feel out of control.
However, research shows that gratitude has many benefits, including improved health outcomes. Studies show that those who experience and express gratitude reported fewer symptoms of pain, experienced more sleep and sleep of better quality, had fewer depressive symptoms, experienced a decrease in blood pressure and also reported higher energy levels.
“Gratitude is a currency that we can mint for ourselves” Fred De Witt Van Amburgh
Gratitude also strengthens our emotions and may bolster our mental health. Research shows that expressing gratitude improves mood, strengthens relationships, builds self-esteem and leads to higher levels of optimism.
Expressing gratitude can be simple and does not depend on huge moments or accomplishments. Building a basic gratitude practice into your life can take just moments and pay lasting dividends. Some suggestions can be starting a gratitude journal, sharing expressions of gratitude regularly with family members at meal time, writing notes of gratitude and sharing them personally or via social media, or keeping a gratitude countdown to milestone events like birthdays, holidays or last days of treatment. We may also want to take the time to simply be grateful for our own strength and resilience through difficult days, and our gratitude may be a very private and personal expression.
Gratitude may not be the answer to every challenge but it may just make things seem a little brighter. Let us know how you are implementing a gratitude practice into your life by leaving a comment below.