What are you grateful for today? November is a time to reflect more closely on the year (as December just gets crazy) and be thankful for what we have. Yes, these are things we should be doing every day but November is a great time to get started if you haven’t been practicing gratitude regularly.

Gratitude is appreciating what you have and noticing the good (even small things!) in your life – with or without a cancer diagnosis. Gratitude can help ground you and get in touch with what you are feeling at that moment. That old cliché “stop and smell the roses or the fall leaves or the snow” can have some real physical and mental benefits for your well-being.

People tend to be happier, have more positive emotions and greater self-esteem when practicing gratitude. Physically, it can reduce depression symptoms, enhance your sleep, and increase your exercise which leads to other health benefits.

While it can be difficult to be thankful for anything when you or someone you care about is dealing with cancer, receiving care from a compassion and dedicated healthcare team is definitely something to be grateful for. Gratitude can actually increase your resilience, help you find the joy along the way, and even ease the fear of recurrence.

There are many ways to practice gratitude so don’t think about it being another daunting task on your to do list, it can be as simple or complex as you like – make it work for you! As you start to think about what you are grateful for you can instantly feel a change in your attitude and the more you do it the more you will experience the benefits. It’s not difficult and below are some simple ways to get you started today.

  • Think: At some point in the day take a moment and identify 1-3 things you are grateful for, or try a guided meditation to help focus on the present. (I love my job, but I also love my family and need to put them first.)
  • Write: Start a journal and be specific (I’m thankful my loved one could take time from work to go with me to my appointment) or put slips of paper in a jar throughout the day, download a calendar and jot them down. Send a note to someone telling them why you are grateful for them.
  • Visual: Take photos of things you are grateful for or cut pictures out of a magazine. (The flowers/balloons in the infusion room brought a smile to everyone’s face.)

However you decide to practice gratitude, make it yours and practice it regularly so it becomes second nature to you and then reap the emotional, social, health, and personal benefits. As you begin treatment, finish treatment, head to an appointment, support a friend or loved one remember to find something to be grateful for despite the challenging feelings you may have at that moment and hopefully that will brighten your day (or at least that moment) a little.We are grateful for all those who believe in the Bag It bag and provide it to patients, friends, loved ones, or themselves and hope that you feel supported and empowered.

Here are some additional resources to help you get started today!

Ted Talks Practice Gratitude Gratefulness
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