Not only during the holiday season, but all year long, we keep being told to be grateful. But did you ever wonder why gratitude is so important?
According to Emma Giordano, MHC-LP, of Empower Your Mind Therapy in New York City, gratitude helps us physically and mentally. “Gratitude can lower your blood pressure and increase happiness, improve interpersonal relationships, and build self-confidence,” she says. “Gratitude also helps you adjust your mindset from one of lacking to one of abundance and thankfulness.”
Sometimes it seems easy to be thankful or grateful around the holidays. But there are reasons to enact this practice all year long. “Gratitude helps practice empathy, the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person. This skill is important all year long to be able to care for others and show up for them the way they might need us,” says Giordano.
“Be sure to check in with yourself all year long and make sure you are grateful for the positive things in your life. Often times, especially with health, we don’t realize what we have until we see someone else without it. It’s also important to remind yourself to think about the positives in life regularly, because people tend to get caught up in the negative and what ‘needs to change’ to become happier. Those ‘needs’ are probably not important in the grand scheme, and are usually influenced by seeing what others might have.”
If you’re not sure how to practice gratitude, Giordano has some tips:
Keep a gratitude journal or notes in your phone of things you’re grateful for each day
Photo journal – taking photos of things you’re grateful for to scroll through any time
Meditation scripts and podcasts are also helpful for quick moments of reflection
“When we talk about the power of gratitude, we can’t overlook its connection with other important aspects of psychological self-care like empathy, recognition, connection, integrity,” she says. “Start by taking a moment to give yourself gratitude for all you do and how hard you work.”
Thanksgiving is over, but the spirit of the holiday doesn’t have to end. In fact, the warmth and introspection can help illuminate this season as we plunge into darkness. When you count your blessings you probably list your loved ones, the roof over your head, and every cupful and plateful that nourishes you.
But do you consider your profession and how it supports you financially, and in less tangible ways? You don’t have to wait for National Nurses Week in May to celebrate your role.
At the beginning of this holiday season I wrote blog posts about gratitude for this site. At the same time I was also interviewing nurses for other blog posts and articles so I’d casually ask them what they were thankful for right now. Big, small, and in between—it was fascinating to hear their responses.
They confirm some of what I’ve learned over the years talking to nurses from different backgrounds and in varied health care environments and specialties. Almost always, I hear that nurses are grateful for some, if not most, aspects of their chosen career.
Here are some of the main reasons nurses say they’re thankful:
Nurses make a difference in someone’s life every day. When they go to bed at night they have the gratification of knowing their work matters. A lot of people in other jobs, whether blue collar, pink collar, or white collar, don’t have that satisfaction. Many of this nation’s workers are now employed in “paper shuffling” occupations that don’t seem to have intrinsic meaning.
Nurses are working in a field that’s in high demand and that pays a family wage.Kiplinger magazine recently reported that the best return on investment when it comes to a college major is nursing. Based on the average income that a graduate could anticipate and the average tuition and fees to earn a bachelor’s degree, nursing came out on top. Their next best choice for major is biomedical engineering.
Nursing has so many different specialties and paths, so as a nurse you don’t have to ever get bored. Nurses can also stick to the same specialty but switch to a different health care environment. One nurse said she was thankful that when it was too physically demanding for her to work as a floor nurse in a busy hospital she was able to transfer over to a quieter asthma clinic.
Nurses are also able to add to their skill sets or even go for advanced degrees, and often their employer will cover the tuition. That’s becoming less common as companies refuse to pay for training and development for their existing workforce.
When nurses start families and want to be home more they can often cut their hours to part-time. Or when they get to the point that they want to retire, they can sign on with a travel nursing company that will get them temporary jobs in their preferred locations.
Some semi-retired nurses hit the road in an RV, taking their homes with them. That way they’re comfortable as they travel to assignments. They can also choose to work in resort areas or to pursue outdoor activities, wintering in the mountains and summering at the beach, for snow skiing and water skiing adventures.
Finally, nurses are making a real impact on health care as doctors and administrators have become more bottom-line or left-brain oriented in their approaches. The nursing profession still holds a holistic view of patients and encourages a humane approach to care. Patients (and fellow staff) are fortunate to be surrounded by nurses, genuine people who carry so much kindness and eagerness to do good.
The more that you recognize the positives of your role as a nurse, the easier it is to put up with the negatives. Because every field has its pros and cons, periodically it’s good to examine what you’re getting out of it. That awareness and sense of gratitude is what makes for a happy and healthy nurse, which makes for a long and sustainable career.
What’s your mood like lately? Do you feel overworked, stressed out, and ready for a little pick me up?
With spring in the air and the Earth coming to life again, now is a great time to be good to yourself and boost your mood with small efforts. Even if you can’t take that wished-for spa vacation, you can weave a little self care into every day to boost your mood and bring you to a happier place.
Yes, we’ve all heard it before. Movement gets rid of stress and releases those all-important feel-good endorphins. So just get moving doing something you like. Play softball, dance the rumba, do kickboxing, run, stroll, garden, swim where you’re comfortable, spin until you drop, or do gentle yoga stretches until you feel at peace. Just move.
Take a peek in your closet – what dominant colors do you see? Whether your clothes resemble the oceany palette of greens, blues, and tans or the ramped-up reds, oranges, and hot pinks, those are your feel good colors. Surround yourself with your favorite colors in your home, too. To boost your mood with colors, buy a few new pillows, a colorful bouquet, a new quilt, or even a funky lampshade to make your surroundings feel good.
Nope, this isn’t a free pass for days in bed! But taking a little extra time for you is going to make you feel good. Experiment with something other than your go-to ponytail, your basic lip balm, and your baggy, but beloved, sweater. Or, if you find you are a slave to your makeup or hair, try to let some of that routine go. Perk up how you pay attention to yourself and to what makes you feel good.
Enrich Your Mind
Nothing feels as good as learning something new, but you don’t have to tackle War and Peace to feel smart. Pick up a colorful and easy-to-read magazine on something that looks interesting to you. It can be woodworking, herb gardening, travel, computers, photography, or poetry. If it looks interesting, a magazine or book is a low-investment way to take your mind to a new place.
Sit and Be
In this crazy, hectic world, we all need time to just be. Find a place where you can just sit for a few minutes every single day. Even if that means you have to close your eyes in a restaurant bathroom or in the car before you get out to run your errands, a few peaceful minutes can do wonders for your mood. Sit. Breathe in. Breathe out.
Even on the toughest day, try to think of something to be grateful for. Can’t think of anything? Some days are just like that, but even appreciating the warm socks on your feet or the beautiful color of the sky or even that, thankfully, the day is almost over and you can crawl into bed, are all ways to pause and acknowledge your existence.
If all that fails, a little chocolate solves many problems!
What’s your favorite way to make yourself feel happier?
Happy Thanksgiving! Today is marked by family reunions, gratitude and reflection. It can also be a day of incredible stress with high expectations and tension with some relatives. To help you make the most of the holiday, use this appropriately named list as a guide.
Heal family rifts. Release grudges and move beyond hard feelings. It’s time.
Accept your imperfections. Doing so will help you accept shortcomings in others.
Practice restraint. Keeping the peace sometimes requires remaining silent.
Pay it forward by helping someone you typically overlook.
Yell out compliments. Catch your family and friends off guard with praise.
Take time to listen. Sometimes what is not said requires a conversation.
Hug loved one like you mean it. You may not get another chance.
Ask those around you to share three reasons they feel grateful. Go first.
Notice new faces and make them feel welcome and connected.
Keep the day positive with an optimistic mindset. Give negative thoughts the day off.
Share family traditions and stories with children and teens.
Give thanks all day long.
Indulge, but get back on track with healthy eating and exercise tomorrow.
Value the people you spend time with on this holiday. Let them know how you feel.
Invite loved ones you only see during the holiday back more often. Ink in dates.
Nap. It’s okay. Really.
Giggle. Find 100 reasons to smile and laugh with family and friends.
Did you do anything on this list [which can be used anytime]? How did you celebrate the holiday? Let us know.
Robin Farmer is a freelance writer with a focus on health, education and business. Visit her at RobinFarmerWrites.com.
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