Thanksgiving: How being grateful improves your wellness and builds empowerment

Nov 11, 2019
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There’s something about Thanksgiving that just makes you feel especially good inside. But this year, between the hot flashes, the mood swings, the debilitating tiredness and whatever other gifts menopause is bringing you, feeling grateful may not always be easy.

The thing is though, researchers have been looking at the effects of gratitude on our personal happiness and discovering how a grateful mindset can turn things around. For example, people who feel grateful for the positive things in their lives typically feel a lot better than those who don’t.1 Feeling grateful creates a sense of being socially connected2, which is one of the things that helps people live longer, happier, healthier lives.3 It contributes to your productivity.4 It can even help you get a good night’s sleep5, and that alone is enough to get a “thank you” out of most of us menopausers.

Of course, the power of gratitude isn’t a new discovery. From Plato to Einstein to Oprah, great thinkers from every era of history have pointed out how life changing a good “thank you” can be. And now that your life is changing anyway, why not do whatever you can to make this change a positive one? Instead of just looking at it as the dark days of night sweats and gravitational pull on your upper arms, you can see this as a fresh chapter in your life—one that begins with all the wisdom you’ve accumulated so far. With a little shift in your perspective, you can live your life feeling empowered by all you’ve learned, seen and achieved.

Feeling good. Ditching the blues and looking forward to what’s coming next. Sensing the love of other people. Sleeping better. Where do you sign up, right?

Actually, you can opt in from the comfort of your own gratitude journal.

What’s a gratitude journal? 

Like its name implies, a gratitude journal is a notebook dedicated solely to things you’re grateful for. What you do write doesn’t have to be elaborate or complicated. It just needs to be a regular practice.

Your journal entries can simply be brief, bullet-pointed lists of 3-5 things you’re grateful for. Or you can light a few candles, put on some music, relax, and pour out a handful of heartfelt pages. The only rule is to focus on what you appreciate, and keep things positive.

The science behind positivity


You know that expression “keep a good thought”? Well, there’s a lot to it. Research actually shows that when you don’t think positive thoughts, you create a happiness void that does even more damage to your state of mind than negative thoughts would. Gratitude fills your mind with more positive emotions and fewer negative ones.6

When you’re writing in your gratitude journal, you’re present in the moment and focused on the feelings you’re experiencing, instead of obsessing over issues of the day, or worrying about tomorrow. The simple act of taking time for yourself is a declaration to yourself that you’re worth that time, and that gives your happiness quotient a boost, too. And being happy has a well-known effect on your overall health and wellness.

Get a quick start with these downloadable gratitude journal pages.


We’ve created a fun template for you to use, so you can start your attitude of gratitude ASAP. We’ve also included writing prompts, and inspiring quotes about the magic of giving thanks.

Use these pages to help you appreciate your changing body, balance your dynamic emotions, and refine your point of view on the way your life is transforming. Respond to the daily prompts, use your own ideas, or just list things you’re grateful for. Journal for as little or as long as you like. It doesn’t have to be profound. Just commit to a practice of writing at the same time every day. And when the time comes to express your gratitude for menopause finally being over, you might find that you actually enjoyed the journey.

 

1. Emmons, R.A. et al. “Counting blessings versus burdens: an experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life.” J Pers Soc Psychol. 2003;84(2):377-89.

2. Wood, A.M et al. The role of gratitude in the development of social support, stress, and depression: Two longitudinal studies. J Pers Soc Psychol, 2008;42(4): 854-71.

3. Harvard Health Publishing. “Strengthen relationships for longer, healthier life” Accessed on October 23, 2019. <https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/strengthen-relationships-for-longer-healthier-life>

4. DiFabio, A.M. et al. “Gratitude in Organizations: A Contribution for Healthy Organizational Contexts.” Front Psychol.2017;8:2025.

5. Wood, A.M et al. “Gratitude influences sleep through the mechanism of pre-sleep cognitions.” J Psychosom Res. 2009;66(1):43–8.


6. North American Menopause Society (NAMS). “Make Your Menopause a Positive Experience” Accessed on October 23, 2019.
<https://www.menopause.org/for-women/menopauseflashes/menopause-symptoms-and-treatments/make-your-menopause-a-positive-experience>
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