As the holidays approach, we are surrounded by enthusiasm, anticipation and excitement. The streets and houses light up with the colours of Christmas. Stores glitter with the wonders of the season to entice shoppers to buy. Family gatherings, parties, and endless holiday treats beckon us to eat, drink and be merry. And while the holidays can bring us a sense of joy, it can also be a time of stress, depression and exhaustion, especially for our seniors.
There is a gift waiting for you to unwrap and discover. "Please share it with others," it says. You can not use it up. The gift increases in size and value the more you use it.
Your gift is gratitude. You were born with it. Our brains are hardwired with gratitude, but it may need some training to grow. When you practice gratitude, it strengthens neural pathways in the brain that elevate physical and mental health. Studies show that practising gratitude and having an attitude of thankfulness boosts happiness, reduces anxiety and depression, and lead to better sleep. In addition, gratitude leads us to feel more connected to people who are attracted to our expression of appreciation and then give it back to us - a blessing for both parties.
Gratitude and spirituality are interconnected. Many world religions emphasize the development and practice of gratitude as a moral virtue. Research shows that praying people show more gratitude. The Psalms in the Old Testament are rich with encouragement to give thanks to God for all things.
Research reveals how health and happiness grow with gratitude. For example, patients with heart disease are more likely to improve their health if they keep a gratitude journal. Students who hold a gratitude journal are happier and more likely to do better in school. People who practice gratitude are more likely to practice healthy habits such as physical activity and healthy eating. In addition, they are more likely to be optimistic.
As 2022 draws to a close and the holidays brighten our days, consider how you can sincerely express your gratitude for the year. Be grateful even for the difficult things, for blessings lie hidden within them, even if you have to look long and hard to find them. Expect opportunities to be grateful in the new year.
To develop gratitude, you need intention. Make a daily list of three things you were grateful for and three occasions when you expressed gratitude to others. This habit will strengthen your inner peace and happiness and help you achieve better health. Gratitude also gives you the inner strength to get through difficult times that inevitably arise.
This year, more than any other year I can remember, I am looking forward to the emotions of Christmas here in Fleurenville. The familiar mix of Christmas carols, the laughter of grandchildren visiting our residents, trees, festive food, and the warmth of peace on earth and goodwill toward others.
This year opens us up to realize how much we need and care for one another. We can let those we love know what they mean to us, open ourselves to listening to them with an attentiveness we never had before, and express the hope that is at the heart of the Christmas message.
"Let us be at peace."
Peace on earth. Goodwill for all.
Fleurenville Aged Care