This time of year, we hear the word “gratitude” a lot. But what does it really mean to make feeling thankful a part of our daily lives, and why is it important to our health?
People who regularly give thanks for what they have (rather than focusing on the things they don’t) report a greater sense of satisfaction and a stronger feeling of connection to others than people who don’t practice gratitude. Recognizing and appreciating all the good in our lives makes us feel happier and, in turn, fosters a more compassionate and generous state of mind that benefits everyone around us.
Today, the Yes Health coaches offer a dozen suggestions for how to find more “thanks” and “giving” in this very busy and sometimes stressful season:
- Thank yourself for making your health a priority. (Way to go!) If you’ve already started a Yes Health journal, take a few minutes to look through it (from the progress tab, select “journal”) to remind yourself just how far you’ve come.
- Each morning, right after you wake up, write down three things you are grateful for. They can be as simple as, “I am alive and have the chance to start another day fresh,” or “I have the sun and can feel its warmth on my face.”
- Make a point to add another well-being activity to your schedule at least 3 times this week and then follow through. (If you are using the Yes Health app, select “activities” from the home screen and then “well-being” to browse a list of suggestions, from meditation to curling up with a good book).
- Thank your spouse, babysitters, mailman, UPS delivery person, trash collector, grocery clerk, bus driver and anyone else who helps make your day-to-day life a little bit easier.
- Set a positive intention for your day. Two simple examples could be, “I will be kind to myself and to others,” or “I will be 100% present when I interact with my family.”
- If you have a holiday feast or party planned, start your morning off with a healthy breakfast (and be sure to share a photo on the Yes Health app), and get outside for a brisk 20-minute walk before the event. (You can now easily log your activity minutes on your app with your free Fitbit tracker.)
- Consider signing up for an outdoor event like a turkey trot, or coordinate your own with friends, neighbors and family for some fresh air, comraderey and holiday fun.
- Take time to call or write a letter or email to someone you don’t connect with often and let them know why you are thankful they are in your life.
- Donate healthy food to a shelter or food bank in recognition of the abundance you have and your ability to share with others who are less fortunate.
- Smile at a stranger and notice how they react. You can also try saying hello, offering a sincere compliment or wishing someone you don’t know a wonderful day. These simple acknowledgements can brighten other’s days, and yours too!
- If you’ll be seeing someone this holiday who you find difficult to be around, take a minute to write down all of the good things about that person and focus on the positives when you’re together.
- Try for at least one hour a day not to complain or criticize. If you catch yourself thinking negative thoughts, bring yourself back to positivity and an open mind. Try extending this practice a little bit every day until those negative thoughts are the exception, instead of the rule.
Yes Health is a low-cost, weight loss and diabetes-prevention program committed to helping everyone live healthier, happier lives.