The holidays are upon us and at Netgain, we couldn’t be more excited to spend time with our friends and family during the holiday season.
As we approach Thanksgiving, we are reminded to slow down and be thankful for the blessings in our lives. As it turns out, an attitude of gratitude may have psychological and physical benefits as well!
We recently spoke with Dr. Julie Johnson, a family practice physician at Health Partners in Sartell, Minnesota. Dr. Johnson, who serves as the Medical Director at her practice, has done extensive research on how gratitude offers benefits that can improve people’s general and mental health, as well as preventing career burn-out.
Here are four practices Dr. Johnson recommends we adopt for a year-round attitude of gratitude:
1. Random acts of kindness.
When we do something nice for someone else, we also feel good. On a medical level, Dr. Johnson said there are more forces at work here than just doing something nice. Dr. Johnson explains that kindness produces oxytocin, which is the chemical that is released into the body when you take an antidepressant medicine. So essentially, doing something kind for someone else also helps you emotionally.
Dr. Johnson further explains that the domino effect of random acts of kindness can also be powerful. When you first do a random act of kindness, you might think it’ll only affect one person, but chances are, that person will follow suit and do something kind as well, making it a positive domino effect.
2. “Three good things”
Dr. Johnson recommends writing down three good things that happened during your day each night at bedtime. Studies show improvement in overall well-being after doing this for just 14 days. “When you start focusing on finding the good in your day rather than the bad, it changes your point-of-view and overall mind-set,” she said. In head-to-head studies, Dr. Johnson said, the “three good things” exercise was just as effective as some medications that treat mild depression.
Self-compassion is a less-talked about form of gratitude; it means being kind and gentle on yourself, which provides benefits to others as well. When we are kind to ourselves and offer the same grace that we offer others, we are able to reach a higher level of achievement, Dr. Johnson says.
4. Gratitude letter
Written communication is great way to show gratitude. Dr. Johnson recommends sending regular communication, via email, cards, letters or texts, to show your appreciation for someone. “Let them know how they’ve touched your life,” Dr. Johnson said. “Because of the chemical reactions in your brain, you’ll get benefit from writing the letter and they’ll get benefit from receiving the letter.”
Showing gratitude and being thankful is a great way to live all year-round, not just during the holidays.
Which of Dr. Johnson’s recommendations will you adopt?