Holidays can serve up more than just family gatherings and meals. They can inspire gratitude and thankfulness that can actually improve your health.

Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson, a pediatrician at the Everett Clinic, tells us more.

We always hear about the holidays making some people feel blue. But they can actually make us feel good, right?

Thanksgiving is a unique holiday in this way. It s really designed around gratitude and thankfulness, which is important emotion to have. In the last decade or so, researchers have found out how feeling gratitude really is good for us. All holidays serve us a kind of stability, and Thanksgiving serves up a day for us to see how we are inspiring gratitude in our lives.

In our house, we like to do what I call a BPOD, or Best Part of the Day. My kids are really into it, it just makes them think about what really is their best part of the day. When we all come together, they can really share it with us as parents.

Another thing is to practice what is called a gratitude visit. A university of Pennsylvania researcher studied what you could to improve levels of happiness in your life. He concluded one way was to write about 300 words on someone you were grateful for, visit them and read them what you wrote. Out of everything they studied, that induced the most power level of happiness.

What are the benefits of feeling grateful?

It can lead to sounder sleep, increased mood and decreased signs of depression. Gratitude can also make you have a better long-term outlook on life.

Once a week, make a list of things that you are grateful for and think about instilling gratitude into your life every day. You can get a big boost of energy from that.

What tips do you have for parents?

Every single day, be thinking about how you are going to make gratitude a part of your children s day and your day. It s a learned and practiced skill. Don t write thank you notes for just gifts, write them for non-material things.

Also, end your day talking about what you re looking forward to tomorrow. It s a great way to frame the next day.


Start a BPOD

Podcast on fostering gratitude

Gratitude for your health (New York Times)

More about Dr. Swanson: Facebook | Twitter:@SeattleMamaDoc | Read her Blog

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