The Importance of Practicing Gratitude

The Importance of Practicing Gratitude
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The intentional practice of gratitude is an essential life skill that’s helped me endure the toughest situations.

A couple of years ago, my health went through a really tough period. I thought I knew everything about managing sickle cell but everything seemed to go wrong. I was regularly experiencing high crisis pain, which heavily interfered with my responsibilities — this had me feeling down for a very long time.

The Gratitude Jar Challenge.

Thankfully I surround myself with very positive role models. Earlier that year, a friend started a gratitude jar; every week he wrote gratitudes on strips of paper, folded them up, and stuck them in the jar. He filled up the jar, then reflected on what he wrote at the end of the year.

I was challenged to do the same, but instead of weekly, I’d have to daily write something for my jar. It seemed like an impossible challenge, but I accepted. So in the midst of my stress, low moods, and physical pain, I still needed to daily find something for which I was thankful.

I was hesitant to start, but once I did, I thoroughly enjoyed the exercise. I often looked forward to adding things to my jar at the end of the day. I started to realize that the more I practiced gratitude, the happier I felt; this definitely had a positive effect on my circumstances at the time. 

At the end of the year, I emptied the jar and reviewed what I wrote while smiling from ear to ear. I was reminded of so many things that made me happy, big and small, that I’d completely forgotten about. I was able to call many of the people who helped me throughout the year to share memories, laugh, and thank them all over again. 

I now maintain a gratitude jar yearly. I recommend that everyone do the same, or something similar. Practicing gratitude can be done in other ways: One could keep a gratitude journal or simply exercise gratitude by actively being more expressive to those around them.

Practicing gratitude can greatly improve your quality of life.

Researchers have found correlations between one’s level of gratitude and quality of sleep. Many people who regularly practice gratitude sleep better and for longer periods of time. This is of special interest to those with sickle cell, as anemia harms sleep quality. Studies also show practicing gratitude can lower blood pressure and reduces feelings of depression.

During this pandemic’s trying and uncertain times, practicing gratitude could help us to stay positive and recognize that however bad things may seem, there are always reasons for gratitude.

Take care, guys!

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Note: Sickle Cell Anemia News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Sickle Cell Anemia News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to sickle cell anemia.

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