National Gratitude Month

By Janine Neill

The most beautiful way to start and end the day is with a grateful heart.

I find that when I focus on the positive and appreciate what I have, I can change the common, change the ordinary and change the everyday routine into daily blessings. When life becomes challenging with long to-do lists and feeling like there is not enough time to be everywhere, or do everything, it can create stressful situations and a sense of feeling overwhelmed. However, by taking the time to slow down, breathe, and enjoy the moment, it becomes apparent that there is always something to be grateful for.

National Gratitude Month is celebrated each year in November, and with Thanksgiving also in November, it presents us with an opportunity to express joy, happiness, positivity and appreciation for the blessings that we have.

There are many mental, as well as physical benefits that come with expressing gratitude. Studies have shown that feeling thankful can improve sleep, mood and immunity. Gratitude can decrease depression, anxiety, difficulties with chronic pain and risk of disease. Grateful people are also more likely to choose positive healthy behaviors – such as exercising on a regular basis, making nutritious food choices, getting enough sleep, and having meaningful connections and relationships.

Here are a few ways to start incorporating gratitude into your daily routine:

Share a smile or hug. This is one of the easiest things you can do to elevate your mood and the moods of those around you. A smile can be contagious in spreading good vibes.

Self-reflection. Think about all that you DO have and not worry about what you do NOT have. Make the best of your current situation and manifest abundance by appreciating all that you have.

Pay it forward. Pay for the coffee or the meal for the person behind you in line. Write an encouraging quote or handwritten note and leave it for someone to find. Support a cause that you are passionate about with a donation of your time or money.

Create a gratitude journal or vision board. Jot down or find pictures of things that you are thankful for. Read it often and display the vision board to help keep you focused on being optimistic. This will boost your mood in recalling the positive things that you encounter in your life.

Acknowledgement. Make it a habit to express appreciation in a sincere way without the expectation of anything in return. The power of sending a thank you note, or calling someone to express gratitude goes a long way. This simplest act of gratitude has the power to change someone’s entire day.

Volunteer. Share your time, talent and treasures. Give more than you receive. There are plenty of volunteer opportunities that can be found in your community. Schools, churches, and shelters are always looking for extra hands to help support their efforts.

Make time for meditation. It could be reflecting on a mantra, spending time in silence thinking about what you are grateful for, taking time to be out in nature or setting time aside for prayer.

Try incorporating some of these suggestions and remember to enjoy the present moment. Regularly practicing gratitude can bring long-term positive effects on your health and well-being and cultivate an optimistic outlook on your life.

Janine is an Implementation Manager with Vitality. She holds a B.S. in Exercise Science/Sport Management from Rutgers University, as well as many certifications within the fitness and nutrition industry. She loves being a spectator/photographer at her daughters’ athletic events, writing on sticky notes, over-consuming nut butters, shiny lip gloss, taking hot yoga classes and competing in triathlons. For relaxation, she enjoys baking, taking naps in hammocks, and listening to podcasts.

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