Taking the time to be grateful can lead to positive health impacts

November is the month we celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday in the U.S. and it’s a time to pause and be grateful.


The impending holidays often come with high expectations — as well as anxiety. This past year as we struggled through the COVID pandemic, many families were apart for the holidays. Some families experienced illness and even death. Some may ask: How is gratitude possible in the face of loss or crisis?


A recent study found that gratitude can actually be a benefit to our mental and physical health. In the study, three groups of people were asked to write a few sentences each week for 10 weeks. Group one wrote about things for which they were grateful. Group two wrote about irritations and things that displeased them. Group three wrote about events that affected them with no emphasis on positive or negative experiences.


After 10 weeks, the research found the group that wrote about their appreciation were more optimistic, exercised more, and had fewer doctor visits. They were overall happier and healthier than the other two groups.


Even more impactful, another study had participants write and personally deliver a letter of gratitude to someone who had not been properly thanked for their kindness. Participants reported huge increases in their happiness scores, with benefits lasting months. Helping and thanking others can make us more thankful for our own lives.


Here at Flatrock, we are grateful not just during the holiday season, but every day, for all of our residents, the joy they bring to our lives and lessons we learn from them. We are also thankful to our many Flatrock staff members and leaders who make our work possible, and perservere through any challenges they may face.


It is difficult sometimes, in the midst of physical, medical, emotional and financial challenges, to feel gracious. Learning to be grateful is a skill like any other and we can start small, like pausing to take note and appreciate a friend’s call or a morning cup of coffee. If we practice gratitude, it will pay us forward with benefits to appreciate.