Happy Holidays, Sisters!
For the first time ever, my husband and I spent 6 weeks in Colorado this autumn. In the pre-COVID era, our work schedules made it impossible to be away from the office for that long. Hiking in the mountains brings me an incredible sense of peace, and I was able to do that daily. I would often stop along the trail and take in the incredible views and the beautiful colors of the aspens. I was so grateful to be in that place for an extended period.
Gratitude – the quality of being thankful and showing appreciation – shifts our mindset to focus on what we have instead of what we lack. When we practice gratitude on a regular basis, it not only impacts our mental and physical health, it also positively impacts those around us.
There are simple, cost-effective ways to practice gratitude throughout your day. As you enjoy that morning coffee, spend a few quiet minutes writing down one thing that went well the previous day and why. Or maybe spend some quiet time reflecting on the day each evening. Pause and pay attention to the little things you encounter throughout the day – like those beautiful aspens in Colorado. Take a moment to tell someone how much you appreciate something they did… or write them a note. Engage in a random act of kindness.
Creating visual reminders can help boost our mood and develop a practice of gratitude with our families and in our workplace (if that is a separate location these days). One of my favorite things about our work culture at Blue Zones Project was our “gratitude chain.” Colleagues would write brief statements of gratitude to each other on strips of construction paper and then the recipient would staple the links onto the chain. Gratitude jars are a similar concept. You write statements of gratitude on slips of paper and collect them in a jar, then reach in and pull one out when you are having a challenging day. What an instant mental reset!
Practicing gratitude has been proven to impact our mental and physical health.
- Expressing gratitude improves your mood, easing symptoms of anxiety.
- Showing gratitude leads to a more positive outlook on life, leading to lower rates of stress and depression.
- Sharing gratitude improves social bonds, as people feel more loved and more connected to others.
- Practicing gratitude can improve physical health through higher energy levels and better sleep, which develop a stronger immune system.
Mental health is one of Omega Phi Alpha’s core areas of service. In the busy-ness of this holiday season, my hope is that you take the opportunity to serve those you love by cultivating an attitude of gratitude.
Forever in Service,
Jan B. Titsworth