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Giving Thanks Can be Good for You

During the holiday season, we have high expectations for a time of joy and connection with others. What happens when these expectations are not met? Unpleasant feelings can settle in and leave you feeling anxious, sad, overwhelmed, or not quite like yourself. However, research suggests something simple we can do from our minds’ comfort to lift our spirits – practice gratitude.

Close your eyes and take the biggest breath you have all day. Think of all the good that has come your way. Allow a soft smile. You have just practiced gratitude! Ellie Lane, ©2020, Clemson Extension

Close your eyes and take the biggest breath you have all day. Think of all the good that has come your way. Allow a soft smile. You have just practiced gratitude!
Ellie Lane, ©2020, Clemson Extension

Gratitude is choosing to accept the moment without judgment and appreciating what that moment brings to you. Gratitude nudges you to refocus and be thankful for what you have instead of what is missing. This state of mind allows you to see the good in a situation and remain hopeful for more blessings coming your way. Although this may seem a forced practice initially, this mental state grows stronger with use and intention over time.

Positive psychology research says gratitude can make you happier and more content with life. Yet, growing evidence suggests this practice offers even more significant health benefits than just a cheerful disposition. Studies report grateful people to have better quality sleep, social connections, immune systems, and more resilience in the face of daily stressors. If you practice gratitude regularly, you will also more likely display other healthy behaviors like eating a nutritious diet, being physically active, and avoiding addictive behaviors.

Want to give gratitude a go and experience all the good that comes from cultivating this practice? Start by shifting your mindset to see your life in a new light. Learn to boost gratitude by trying some of the activities below.

  • Be curious
  • Approach the world with wonder like a child
  • Lower your expectations
  • Focus on the positive
  • Be intentional with your actions
  • Find things that bring you joy
  • Count your blessings
  • Reflect on the worst times in your life to realize how lucky you are now
  • Think of people who are less fortunate than you to help you feel satisfied with your circumstances
  • Remind yourself how blessed you are to have privileges and opportunities unique to you Notice and acknowledge the good things you get in life
  • Be content with what you have
  • Appreciate loved ones

Sources:

  1. Allen, S. (2018, March 5). Is Gratitude Good for Your Health? Retrieved November 11, 2020, from https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/is_gratitude_good_for_your_health
  2. Publishing, H. (n.d.). Giving thanks can make you happier. Retrieved November 11, 2020, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/giving-thanks-can-make-you-happier

If this document didn’t answer your questions, please contact HGIC at hgic@clemson.edu or 1-888-656-9988.

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