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The health benefits of gratitude

A journal entry starting with I am grateful for
OSF HealthCare

It is the time of year where families gather and gratitude is passed around the dinner table along with the turkey and trimmings.

Reflecting on what you are grateful for might be a time honored tradition during the holiday season, but mental health professionals say it should be a part of your life year round. According to Cheryl Crowe, the director of Behavioral Health for OSF Healthcare, making a habit of focusing on the positives in your life can offer great benefits to your mental health.

“There’s health benefits to gratitude, certainly. It puts us in a better, positive state. It really builds that resilience,” explained Crowe. “It’s just a tool we can use to focus on the good things and the blessings, and I think when we do that we just stay in a very positive state of mind, which is important for all of us.”

Taking a few moments to reflect on gratitude can help you find meaning in small but enjoyable moments, like a great cup of coffee or a fun conversation with a coworker.

Crowe says it is easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day grind, but choosing to be grateful can help boost a person’s mood. She adds, gratitude can also be contagious.

“When we get stuck in a negative place we tend to bring people to us who are also very stuck, and this is an opportunity to really not only help them share a different message, but to have a different experience,” said Crowe.

Crowe warns that gratitude takes practice, and suggests starting with approaches like saying thank you to people who may not expect it, or writing down a few things each day that make you grateful.

She also says that one act of gratitude can cause a ripple effect, impacting someone’s life in ways beyond measure.

“This is an important topic because there are so many people who are lonely and in need, and we are seeing that impact things like suicide rates and rates of depression,” said Crowe. “We have an opportunity when we practice gratitude to share our experiences and to share that joy and really reach out to people who may need us, and need more than we need at that moment, and I think this is our opportunity to do that, and be grateful for what gifts we can share.”

OSF HealthCare, an integrated health system owned and operated by The Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis, Peoria, Illinois. OSF HealthCare is a not-for-profit Catholic health care organization that operates a medical group, hospital system, and other health care facilities in Illinois and Michigan. Headquartered in Peoria, Illinois, OSF HealthCare is owned and operated by the Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis.
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