The media is filled with reports of supply chain issues and how they will affect the holiday seasons that are upon us. Inflation is a reality with which we are dealing as prices rise on a variety of commodities from the costs of food, needed household items, fuel and beyond.

Illnesses that can affect the youngest to the oldest people such as the COVID virus and any variants of the illness, influenza and respiratory syncytial virus are active and have the potential of spreading. Seasonal affective disorder, grief and our overall mental health are experiences in relation to the context of this time of year and of dealing with the coronavirus.

With all these concerns, we may experience negativistic thoughts and emotions making it more challenging to find reasons to be thankful. It is not a season simply to offer platitudes or to ignore the realities of our lives. But it is a time when we can consider the benefits that the practice of giving thanks can bring to our overall well-being.

Current licensed and working as a nurse practitioner and with over 40 years of service in ministry, I have witnessed the holistic benefits of thanksgiving.

Physical health is affected positively by our gratitude. Prescriptions for medications address the symptoms of illnesses, but so do instructions for our overall way we approach life. The recognition of reasons for and genuinely expressing thankfulness can benefit our physical well-being, including making better nutritional choices, initiating and maintaining exercise programs, experiencing more restorative sleep, managing a variety of illnesses and more.

Psychological welfare can improve with the development of an appreciative mindset. You can learn to see the many aspects of your life between the extremes. Feelings are facts, but we all choose how we respond to our feelings. None of our lives are perfect. The fact that you have had negative experiences does not mean you are guaranteed a rotten future. Anxiety and depression can be reduced by developing the ability to see good in your life. Your personal esteem and contentment can be increased by feeling and expressing gratitude for the positive facets of your life.

Personal relationships are enhanced by recognizing and expressing thanksgiving for the positive elements of our ties to others at work, in our neighborhoods and in our homes. When we value others and express gratitude for them, we positively can impact others, improve communication, work to solve problems and realize growth in liaisons that affect our overall health. When we focus on reasons that exist for gratitude, we can see the meaning in relationship, be more patient with others and emphasize how we can help others.

Perspectives of gratefulness contribute positively to our personal and relational growth. When we develop greater appreciation for even the smallest aspects of our lives and of others, we incrementally have the potential to develop our personal peace and contentment, to grow mentally and spiritually and to improve our health holistically. Just like selecting the right frame for a picture, you can choose the view you have of your past, present and future life.

The good news is you can change your overall well-being by being a grateful person. You can develop the ability to recognize and place emphasis on the good in your life. Appreciation can increase the potential for healthy growth in your work, relationships with others and in your personal life.

My uncle by marriage, Al Jaynes, had the habit of writing a “thank you” note to someone daily. Now may be a time to re-evaluate how grateful you are. It may be a time to develop a practice to express thanksgiving every day and to see the positive health benefits in your life.

GARY W. DODD is a guest columnist who is a nurse practitioner with more than 40 years of service in ministry.

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