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Finding Gratitude this Season

By Sarah W., Lifestyle Consultant, Edina

Thanksgiving is a holiday when Americans gather with friends and family to celebrate the bountiful harvest of the land and to give thanks for all the good in their life. It is also a time when many feel an increase in stress due to high expectations, temptations for overeating and the swirl of activities for the remainder of the year. Stress, frustration, and anxiety all have a link to greater caloric intake, particularly with those who are overweight.[1] This common experience brings to light the link between emotion and eating which may lead to a conclusion that when you change your emotions, you change your response.

Robert Emmons, the leading expert in Gratitude, has reported many benefits to those who have developed a practice of gratitude including healthier lifestyles, greater stability, higher levels of happiness and a better sense of connectedness with the world. [2] According to Emmons, gratitude helps us celebrate the present, block negative and toxic emotions, build a resistance to stress, and give people a greater sense of self-worth. Gratitude helps us live better lives.

Creating a practice of gratitude means developing a method to track or journal what makes you feel grateful for and opening your eyes to a more positive outlook.

Thank Yourself First

Are you practicing healthier habits? Acknowledge your strengths, how you have developed strategies to live a healthier lifestyle, taking steps to lose weight, overcoming difficulties, dealing with tough situations, finding ways to mitigate stress, and loving your mind, body and spirit. Cultivate an appreciation of YOU.

Thank Others

Who has been supportive of you and has helped you with your healthy lifestyle? Who has inspired you? Who has cheered you on in your endeavors? Take the time to thank these people in person, by phone, text, email, letter or in your journal. The more you acknowledge other’s gifts to you, the easier it is to see all the support around you and feel more connected.

Thank the World Around You

Are you grateful for the home you live in, your neighborhood, your job? Are you thankful for the ease of getting around, the ability to find healthy foods at your local grocery store and enjoying activities?  Every day brings a new beginning, a new opportunity to learn and a recognition of the gifts all around you.

Cultivating gratitude helps you nurture your physical and mental health. Author Naomi Williams wrote “It is impossible to feel grateful and depressed in the same moment.”  Embrace gratitude and change your life for good.

[1] Reents J, Seidel AK, Wiesner CD, Pedersen A. The Effect of Hunger and Satiety on Mood-Related Food Craving. Front Psychol. 2020 Nov 2;11:568908. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.568908. PMID: 33224061; PMCID: PMC7667273.

[2] Emmons,R (2010) Why Gratitude is Good. Greater Good Magazine. https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/why_gratitude_is_good