The HCMA theme for December is Gratitude

Why practice gratitude?

Gratitude has benefits for both mental and physical health as well as our relationships with those around us. When we’re thankful for anything positive in our lives, it leads to a shift in mindset that helps us feel better and take action to stay as healthy as possible. What can you think of that’s been good for you this month? What about this year? Who are the people in your life you appreciate? What in your life makes you feel grateful?

Being grateful can help us manage stress. It can even help keep blood pressure from rising in response to stress if we have recently felt grateful. 

Gratitude can help improve mood and stave off depression. Robert Emmons is a researcher who has studied gratitude and well-being. His research shows that happy people are more likely to take steps to stay healthy, such as exercising, eating right, and seeing their doctor or dentist regularly. People who write a few things they’re grateful for in a journal every evening sleep better, and we all know how much better we feel when we have a good night’s rest!

We at the HCMA talk a lot about resilience. Gratitude helps you to be more resilient when something bad happens to you, and it can give you some insulation against all the things happening in the world. Instead of focusing on what’s wrong, someone who practices gratitude can see what’s going right.

A study in Massachusetts of those with acute coronary syndrome found that patients had more improvement in health-related quality of life as well as less depression and anxiety when they showed gratitude and optimism during recovery. Now, this isn’t HCM, which we know is a chronic condition, but it also applies to us. (Millstein, Celano, Beale, et al., 2016)

People who practice gratitude regularly are more likely to act socially thoughtful and empathetic. They are more sensitive towards other people. They also feel less competitive and often have higher self-esteem. It’s one of the easiest ways to improve your satisfaction with your life. Remember, if you’re happy, you’re more fun to be around, which can benefit your social and professional life.

Ways to practice gratitude

  • Try keeping a journal of times you feel grateful each day. 
  • If someone gives you a gift this holiday season, be sure to express your thanks to them because this can strengthen your relationship, make them feel good, and make you feel good! If you didn’t want that ugly sweater, that’s ok – regift it next year (or donate it next week), but allowing yourself to feel grateful that someone cared to give you a gift is the most important thing because of the mental and emotional boost it provides. 
  • Thank someone who served you in some way – genuinely saying thank you to them can make up for past customers who were rude and put a smile on both your faces.