Coping with cancer, Covid, or other health or life challenges can make it tough to remember our blessings during this season of giving, gratitude, and celebration we call “the holidays.”

But expressing gratitude goes beyond refocusing away from our challenges to simply find the goodness in our lives. Its power also enables us to accept the struggles that are present in our lives while also fostering resilience and hope – making it a practice worthy of adopting even during the most difficult of times.

Gratitude research finds links with stress relief, improved social ties/relationships, benefits to physical well being like better sleep, lower inflammation, blood pressure, and pain, as well a positive correlation with healthier lifestyle factors like diet and exercise.

Ongoing studies are being conducted to study the effects of what happens to the brain when a person practices gratitude. Findings suggest that it may help train the brain to be more sensitive to the experience of gratitude, which could contribute to lasting effects and improved mental health over time.

Your gratitude practice doesn’t have to be complicated. Adopting gratitude as part of your routine takes consistency and some time. You can be grateful for past, present or future blessings, and the more specific the entries, the better.

Write a thank you note or letter of appreciation to someone, then decide if you want to send it to the person. You don’t have to share it, though it might be a way to strengthen a relationship.

There are apps aplenty in the app stores if you want to record your entries digitally, and they even have reminders. Write in a journal, or simply and silently list three things you are thankful for as you lie in bed and drift off to sleep. Can’t stay awake long enough? Spend a few minutes in the morning before you get up and start your day. This can also be a good way to set an intention for the day. Gratitude, meditation and prayer are also methods of appreciating the joy in our lives. Use whatever works for you!