5 Ways to Add Gratitude Into Physical Therapy Work Life

While a lot of professionals are looking forward to holidays off with family and slower seasons at work, we know the healthcare field can be quite the opposite.

Cold weather is setting in, some of our patients are feeling the wintertime blues, and our schedules don’t get any easier.

Incorporating gratitude into your daily work life may sound trivial, but the statistics don’t lie. People who participate in small gratitude exercises experience more happiness.

Even though gratitude can be extremely powerful, remember, it’s only one way to take care of yourself. If you’re feeling down or depressed, there’s no reason to grin and bear it alone. Ignoring your own feelings in the name of being thankful isn’t going to help anyone!

But, if you are looking for ways to get your daily dose of gratitude in, here are some ideas.

Jot down something you're thankful for every day.

This doesn’t have to be a formal gratitude journal exercise, though it certainly can be! A recent Harvard study tested two groups of people: one that documented small gratitudes every day, and one that documented their complaints every day.

At the end of 10 weeks, the gratitude group were more optimistic, more physically active, and even booked fewer doctors appointments than their complaint counterparts!

Give someone a "Thank You" note.

A handwritten note to a co-worker, mentor, or spouse can go a long way to building that relationship and making you both feel good. It reminds you that you have someone in your corner and encourages them to pay the kindness forward.

Savor your meals.

How often do you try to eat breakfast as you’re getting ready or driving to work in the morning? Or, do you mindlessly scroll through social media while you’re  on your lunch break? Instead of eating while distracted, try slowing down and actually enjoying your meals. Taste your food, sit in a window with a pretty view and watch what passes by outside, or converse with someone who’s at the table with you. Eating slower is actually a great practice that promotes physical and mental health benefits.

Treat yourself to small pieces of happiness.

For me, it’s about wearing bright headbands and bold lipsticks to dress up my scrubs. For you, it might be a playlist you listen to while you document or special snacks in your lunch box. Whatever it is that brings a smile to your face and increases your confidence and happiness at work, it’s worth it!

Start a gratitude journal with patients.

Especially if you’re working in inpatient, turn gratitude into an activity that you and your patients can practice. Start your sessions by exchanging what each of you are grateful for. If it makes sense, keep a gratitude journal together through the rest of the year so that they can look back on it in the days and weeks to come.

It’s easy to talk about gratitude leading up to Thanksgiving, but think about incorporating these small practices into your daily routine all year long. You may be surprised at how these things could change your outlook, increase your happiness, and spread joy to the people around you!

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