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Photo: Thankful person

By Elizabeth (Lisa) B. Shelton, MSW, LCSW, Director of ARHS Employee Assistance Program


The fall and winter holiday season is upon us, and Thanksgiving Day is just around the corner. Thanksgiving Day has its origins in the harvest festivals of Colonial New England, and was officially proclaimed a national holiday On October 3, 1863 by President Abraham Lincoln.

Modern day Thanksgiving feasts usually feature delicious food such as turkey, stuffing or dressing, cranberries, and pumpkin pie. You may experience the calming effect of the tryptophan in your turkey, but could the mere act of being thankful also impact your health and wellness?

Research on gratitude and physical health is still evolving, but studies so far are suggesting that there may be a positive relationship between the two. According to positive psychology research, having an attitude of gratitude is a powerful contributor to a happy, healthy, and satisfying life.


Defining Gratitude


Gratitude is expressing thanks for the gifts we have received. It is a form of appreciation, and there are many ways to experience it. The happiness that we create for ourselves by showing our appreciation has far reaching effects, both for ourselves and for those we come in contact with.

Gratitude can give us hope and help us to focus on the good things we have in life instead of focusing on the difficult things or the things that we lack.

Gratitude can help us to engage in behaviors that help keep us healthy like exercising, connecting with others, eating well, getting enough rest, and practicing work-life balance.


Cultivating Gratitude


There are many ways to develop an attitude of gratitude. Here are just a few to try:

  • Say “thank you” to people who have helped you in some way or write a thank you note to someone for whom you feel thankful or grateful.
  • Keep a gratitude journal and write down the things you are grateful for, taking a moment each day to think about the positive things that have happened during the day.
  • Make a gratitude list and set a goal of listing 100 things you have to be grateful for. Keep adding to your list until you reach your goal.
  • Practice random acts of kindness – surprise someone with something unexpected.
  • Be satisfied with the simple things in life. Our lives are filled with little things every day that we can be grateful for.


Need help cultivating gratitude or overcoming life’s circumstances?


For individuals: 

The holiday season can be a painful time for some. Whether it’s the first holiday without a loved one, the anguish of broken relationships, the weariness of ill health or isolation, the holiday season may not be one filled with joy and happiness.

Appalachian Regional Outpatient Behavioral Health at Cannon Memorial Hospital is designed to meet the needs of adults, children and families experiencing a variety of problematic behaviors, thoughts and life patterns. We work to improve emotional stability and increase general functioning, as well as help clients identify, develop and use effective coping skills.

Call us at (828) 737-7888 to see how we can help you with individual or group therapy, medication management, or psychiatric care.


For employers: 

As a part of our Corporate Wellness Services, the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) can help your employees understand and cope with those difficult family, legal, stress or drug and alcohol problems that are too much for their friends and relatives to help with.Ongoing problems often begin to impair work performance. Employees may be unable to concentrate, make more mistakes, or have trouble getting to work on time.

EAP counselors are trained and experienced. The counselors all have attained Masters Degrees in Human Service fields along with licensure and/or certifications in appropriate areas of counseling. call (828) 268-9049 to see how we can help your employees.

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