It’s a great time of year to feel thankful and show gratitude. When living with chronic pain, it may be difficult to connect to the positive aspects of your life. However, if you stop to think about your relationships and focus outside of yourself, you may discover increasing gratitude and experience the many benefits of feeling thankful.
Being grateful can help you:
– Increase optimism and reduces negativity
– Relieve stress. Since stress can make pain worse, anything that relieves stress can also relieve some of the negative health effects that stress causes.
– Boost your immune system. Gratitude can lead to increased optimism, which has been shown to improve immune function.
– Improve relationships. Couples who express gratitude can find more positive feelings toward each other and toward the relationship. And it can increase your relationship satisfaction.
– Sleep better by allowing you to fall asleep more peacefully
– Make you feel happier, both immediately and over time. These positive thoughts can reduce feelings of depression and anxiety.
10 meaningful ways to show gratitude
There are many ways to cultivate gratitude every day. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Feed the hungry – If you’re fortunate enough to buy food at the store, purchase extra for the hungry. Knowing that you are caring for others can shift your focus away from yourself and allow you to be thankful for a full pantry.
- Write notes – Send letters, emails, Facebook shout out or videos to those people in your life to whom you are thankful, like family members, co-workers, friends, and even health care providers. Everyone appreciates a thank you, and it will help you remember the importance of others in your life.
- Involve your family – This Thanksgiving, create a thankful tree or jar for you and your family to note the many blessings in your lives.
- Make a list – Write down everyone you are thankful for and find ways to thank them and show your appreciation. You may be surprised at the length of your list.
- Take photos – Photograph the people, places and things you love. Then create your own gratitude board. See our Focus on Gratitude article for inspiration.
- Support a cause – Send cards, needed items, or financial contributions to soldiers, veterans, your local children’s hospital or animal shelter. There are plenty of charities that would greatly benefit from your support.
- Journal – Many people benefit from writing regularly in a diary or blog. When you document meaningful moments in your life – big and small – it shines a spotlight on your appreciation.
- Bake treats – Sharing cookies is like spreading love. Everyone appreciates the thoughtfulness of a homemade goodie. Many care and hospice centers greatly appreciate baked goods for patients and their families.
- Be kind – Share a smile or a hug; say thank you; or buy coffee for the person behind you – all acts of kindness make you feel good.
- Host a gathering – Invite the people who have supported you most into your home. What a wonderful way to connect and show appreciation. It does not have to be elaborate; it is truly the thought that counts.
To learn more about cultivating gratitude, read our wellness blog.
See how Dr. Grinstead develops an attitude of gratitude in this video: