Barbara Fradkin – FLORIDA TODAY
Q: When was the last time you stopped to think about what you’re grateful for? Thanksgiving?
A: We have all been through a lot over the past two years. We’ve spent a lot of time at home, thinking about things we could not do and people we could not see. We have weathered change after change, learned how to social distance, wear a mask, attend Zoom meetings and FaceTime more with our kids and grandkids.
So, I’ll ask again: When was the last time you stopped to think about what you are grateful for? You know– being thankful for all the positive things in your life? As simple as it sounds, gratitude actually has some big benefits. In fact, expressing gratitude may be one of the most powerful ways to boost your happiness. A 2009 study from the National Institutes of Health found that the hypothalamus deep in our brains is activated when we feel gratitude –or are kind to others. Essentially, gratitude helps us function better. Gratitude also rewards us with a hit of dopamine, a “feel good” chemical. This encourages us to do it again and again. So once you start, it’s easy to keep up the habit!
Gratitude has also been found to help us regulate emotions better — and manage our stress. A 2017 study published in Scientific Reports found that practicing gratitude was linked to decreased heart rates and feelings of calmness. So the next time you are feeling overwhelmed and stressed, close your eyes and run through the list of things you are grateful for in the moment.
As we head into a fresh new year, I’m thinking about what I am grateful for. I am lucky to have a husband who loves me, a big sister always looking out for me, two dogs that adore me unconditionally and two children and six grandchildren that still like to talk to me! I have a great job and co-workers that are extended family, a place to lay my head at night, food on my table, and friends that live near and far away. If COVID taught me one thing, it’s that possessions are not always important; it’s the people in your life that make the difference. Remember to say thank you to the checker at the grocery store, the guy who picks up your trash, and the lawn guy who shows up no matter how hot it is outside.
So Happy New Year! And I’ll keep writing articles to help you navigate growing older. Questions? Just call me. I love to talk!
One Senior Place is a marketplace for resources and provider of information, advice, care and on-site services for seniors and their families. Questions for this column are answered by professionals in nursing, social work, care management and in-home care. To submit a question, send an email to askOSP@OneSeniorPlace.com or visit One Senior Place, The Experts in Aging at OneSeniorPlace.com. Barbara Fradkin is a Social Worker, Certified Care Manager and the Director for One Senior Place, Viera.