The holiday season is often a time when people feel moved to express their gratitude for the blessings they have. For burn survivors and family members, the holidays can be a mix of challenging circumstances and appreciation for the many people who have made a difference in their lives. We would like to encourage you to spend a little extra time this season focusing on the positive and wonderful things around you.
Research is beginning to show that people who feel grateful are psychologically, emotionally and physically happier and healthier. They are more optimistic, have more energy, sleep better, get sick less often and are socially more outgoing. We are also learning that the practice of gratitude helps with emotional healing; negative thoughts seem to pop up less when gratitude is practiced more. And there’s more good news: you can create habits that bolster gratitude and reap the resulting benefits.
The following activities will help you and your family to build your gratitude skills. Choose one or two this holiday season and watch your own spirit of thankfulness and appreciation grow stronger and fuller.
CREATE A GRATITUDE JOURNAL: Take time daily to write down at least three things from your day that you are thankful for. For families, go around the dinner table and have everyone share one example of gratitude from the day. For individuals, share a journal entry with a friend.
GRATEFUL ACTS OF KINDNESS: Practice exercising your appreciation by doing intentional acts of kindness. Visit your local firefighters or burn center and take a plate of cookies. Have the children draw pictures and send them to the burn center.
MAKE GOOD MEMORIES: Intentionally make memories to be grateful for, with people you’re grateful for. Take fun photos of yourself or your family, draw pictures of good memories from the year and hang them in the windows, post your favorite joke on Facebook, write a blog, make a photo-book, send a hand written letter: all ways to document experiences you’re appreciative of. Share them with others.
In the art of appreciation, from all of us at the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors, thank you for who you are and all you do! We look forward to 2013 and are grateful to have you as part of the burn survivor community.