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Bringing Gratitude into Coping with Chronic Illness

attitude-of-gratitudePosted by Summer Katz, MA, LMHC, Patient Advocate

The Thanksgiving holiday is just a couple days away and I thought it would be a great time to highlight “gratitude.” Focusing on being thankful for the “what I have in my life” has been proven to be more effective and beneficial to our quality of life than over-focusing on the “what I don’t have.”

Being grateful is a consideration of the positive (past, present and future). This certainly does not minimize any of the negative experiences in our lives. Many of us with chronic illness surely understand that the illness’s impact due to the ongoing symptoms of our condition(s) and the side effects of our treatment(s) are never enjoyable.

However, the concept of gratitude is truly an important one; a proven coping strategy to reduce depressive and anxious symptoms. Multiple studies have been done over the years on the correlation between gratitude and well-being; confirming that gratitude effectively increases happiness and reduces depression.1

 Being Grateful Can Improve Your Health

Gratitude is also about “joy.” Finding joy in the things around you is an important aspect of confronting negative focus or catastrophic (worst-case scenario) thinking.  Catastrophizing is a significant factor in anxiety and certainly depression. While gratitude may uniquely produce lower depression in chronic illness populations.2

We all can experience things in life which are certainly undesirable, if not become debilitating factors to our ability to navigate life successfully. I believe that the goal is not to merely wish those unfavorable outcomes away, but rather learn how to incorporate peace and joy amongst or alongside them.

There are quite a number of sources on this topic, and I would highly encourage you to continue reading and exploring the benefits of gratitude in your life (see below). As you do, you just may be entering this Thanksgiving holiday with a bit more readiness to receive the positive moments that do surround you (and are within you). Let’s ward off some of that Bah Humbug spirit that easily comes with stress, obligation and certainly the impact grieving may have due to any loss (certainly the losses experienced in chronic illness).

“Cultivating Gratitude while Living with Chronic Illness”

“How Gratitude Combats Depression”

“How the Positive Effects of Gratitude Reduce Caregiver Stress”

“8 Reasons To Be Grateful For Chronic Illness”

“Boost Your Health With a Dose of Gratitude”

May you and yours truly have a Happy Thanksgiving and may you find gratitude and joy as you carry on into this holiday season!

Thankful

Sources:

  1. “ 7 Scientifically Proven Benefits of Gratitude”
  2. US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health

Summer Katz, M.A., LMHC
Licensed Mental Health Counselor
Cystic Fibrosis Pharmacy Patient Advocate
Email: katzs@hhcs.com
Office Phone: 407-898-4427 ext. 1005 or 888-307-4427

*Disclaimer: This blog is provided for informational purposes only (including brief topic exploration or reflection) and should not be used as a substitute for professional mental health or medical treatment. ** All listed resources have been identified for supplemental reading only, and the Cystic Fibrosis Pharmacy nor Summer Katz, M.A., LMHC is neither affiliated nor endorsing the aforementioned published material.

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