Gratitude, optimism can help us lead healthy lives as we face a COVID-affected holiday
As we spent the past week preparing to once again celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday, we find ourselves in unchartered waters.
We have spent the last many months navigating through birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, back-to-school activities and many more daily routines that are no longer routine. We have adjusted to facilitating interactions both personal and professional through either virtual technology or physical distancing, all of which create barriers.
While these physical barriers are a new reality, it is important to note that we have all had barriers throughout our life that went unrecognized. Barriers that prevented us from truly appreciating the people, places and moments in our lives.
Just as an example, we took for granted a pleasant smile that is now masked, the comradery of sitting among co-workers or fellow students at meetings or classes that now find us physically alone facing a screen.
The good news is that despite all of the challenges or the continued stream of bleak news stories, we have the capability within us to persevere. We don’t have to wait for our post-COVID world to appreciate those around us or be grateful for what we have.
In fact, it is during these times that gratitude has its most powerful impact.
We hear a great deal these days about following the science, and there is in fact real science which supports the physiological benefits of gratitude. Some of these are:
- increased happiness and positive mood
- more satisfaction with life
- less materialistic
- less likely to experience burnout
- better physical health
- better sleep
- less fatigue
- lower levels of cellular inflammation
- greater resiliency
- encouraging the development of patience, humility, and wisdom
If all of these benefits weren’t enough, there is an additional benefit to gratitude. It is optimism, and in the world of positive psychology there is no greater source of healthy physical or mental wellbeing than optimism. It is stronger and more sustaining than any vaccine will ever be against the many “viruses” we face in our lives.
So this Thanksgiving, let’s all focus on the people and moments in our lives that we should be grateful for, rather than the struggles.
There is a saying that goes, “For those who fight for it, life holds a splendor the sheltered will never know." I have no doubt that once we finish this fight, we will have a greater ability to enjoy the Splendor that was here all the while. Happy Thanksgiving!
Matt Joski is Kewaunee County Sheriff.
This article originally appeared on Green Bay Press-Gazette: Gratitude, optimism can help us lead healthy lives as we face a COVID-affected holiday