The simple act of expressing gratitude can have a big impact on your well-being.
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. As Louisiana natives, our family has a tradition to kick off the holiday with a “Cajun Thanksgiving” on Wednesday. My family loves to cook, and we are definitely “foodies.” So our Thanksgiving meal the following day is just as robust. I think the term “food coma” surely applies to how we feel at the end of the night!
But it’s more than the sharing of delicious food that makes this holiday so special to me: It’s the act of being present and grateful. Every year, we hold our tradition of going around the table and saying our “thankfuls”— sharing what each of us appreciated most from this past year. Sometimes it’s the people in our lives, or acts of kindness we experienced, or just a general appreciation of the life we are living.
But did you know that sharing our “thankfuls” actually improves our health and performance? There’s been extensive research on the power of gratitude and how it affects us emotionally, mentally, and physically. According to a study cited on PositivePsychology.com, “Participants who felt grateful showed a marked reduction in the level of the stress hormone, cortisol. They had better cardiac functioning and were more resilient to emotional setbacks and negative experiences.”
How do you make gratitude a priority all year?
First, remember to say “thank you” to the people you work with each day. This basic act, per a recent Harvard Medical School article, can have a profound impact on people, from increasing their engagement levels, to reducing their stress and errors. Even thanking someone mentally (without sharing it with them) has a positive impact on you.
Second, periodically reflect on your life and write down the things for which you are grateful. This has two effects: 1) It improves your well-being, and 2) It increases positivity and happiness
3 WAYS TO EXPRESS GRATITUDE
Take 30 minutes this Thanksgiving (pre-food coma 😊) to stop and reflect on your past year and those things for which you are thankful.
- Send a Thanksgiving “thankful” email or better yet, a handwritten card, to those at work. This doesn’t need to be time-consuming. Just share a brief sentence or two of what and why you are grateful for them.
- Express your feelings for your loved ones and share your “thankfuls” at your Thanksgiving dinner.
- Feel the stress decrease and note how you feel mentally, emotionally, and physically, because of it.
I’m grateful for all my clients, partners, and friends. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
MORE ON GRATITUDE
Want to learn more about how gratitude improves your well-being? Check out these articles: