It’s that time of the year, again! Thanksgiving is upon us and with the holiday that, in the US comes with celebrating and sharing gratitude comes an episode all about increasing gratitude and cultivating gratitude in our lives.
Working in healthcare is stressful and can feel all consuming. It can also be incredibly hard to work within a system that wasn’t designed for ease of use for patients or to promote the health and wellness of those of us providing care to those patients.
Today on The PA Is In I’m sharing 7 strategies for cultivating gratitude in your everyday life. Here’s how to integrate a gratitude practice in your life and as a part of your medical practice.
I know you’ve got a turkey in the oven so I’m going to move pretty quickly through these suggestions on how to increase gratitude as a healthcare worker, but I want you to consider grabbing a pen and paper.
You are going to want to jot these increase in gratitude strategies down because studies show that when we write something down in our own handwriting, on paper, on purpose changes the way that we remember and execute these things.
Ok, here we go – The PA Is In – increasing gratitude edition.
Does Increasing Gratitude Matter?
Before I share with you these 7 ways to cultivate gratitude in your life, you may be asking yourself – does gratitude even matter?
Just because there is a national holiday that marks a day of giving thanks, does it REALLY mean that we should be leaning into being grateful?
Well, here’s the thing about gratitude – it helps in so many ways!
Practicing gratitude leads to better physical and mental health, stronger relationships and increased resilience. You feel better about yourself and about your life. More satisfied in what and who you have in your life.
Being grateful has been associated with less stress and a greater ability to regulate your emotions.
Ultimately gratitude improves your quality of life. Because, just like quality of life matters to our patients, it matters to us!
Cultivating a gratitude practice can improve your mental and emotional health, and it can lead to a more fulfilling and satisfying life. It shifts your focus from an inward focus to an outward focus. From what you are lacking and the challenges you face to what you already have and the blessings that are around you.
Positivity and gratitude go hand-in-hand. Being aware of your own gratitude means that you have more appreciation for the moment that you are in.
Now that I’ve reminded you of why gratitude matters, let’s get to the practical part of this episode – 7 ways to feel more grateful and reach for that better quality of life.
Gratitude Journal –
Writing down each day, 3 specific things I’m thankful for – specific things – in the last 24 hours.
365 days a year
3 things a day
Nearly 1,000 single specific descriptive items that you’ve been thankful for in the last year.
Even when work and life feel busy, full and stressful, this gratitude journaling practice has helped me to seek out positivity. It will change the way that you see interactions with patients, colleagues, and those who you love in your personal life.
Volunteer or Give Back –
You can do this inside of healthcare like a mission trip or a local free clinic, or step outside the bounds of your role in healthcare and give back in another way.
We love to involve our kiddos if at all possible in these types of activities – whether it’s volunteering time or donations, these experiences have had such a positive impact on specifically our younger kids.
Our kids don’t experience a lot of hardship, which is not lost on me how much inherent privilege our kiddos have. Both for them and for me it’s important to remember those who are not in a similar situation.
These opportunities to give back to our community fosters a sense of belonging and also reminds us of those things we have to be grateful for in our day-to-day lives.
Share Thank Yous –
A simple thank you goes a long way. Whether it’s to your partner, your kiddos or your colleagues, making sure that you verbally express your thanks is important.
Don’t forget to thank the support staff – everyone from the environmental services team that cleans your office and turns over your rooms to the nurses, CNAs and MAs who support you being able to take care of your patients. Do not forget the front desk and the administrators in your group.
There are so many people working to help you take care of your patients!
Also don’t forget to thank your patients – there are a lot of providers they could be seeing and taking time to thank them for trusting you helps to deepen your relationship with them.
Mindfulness and meditation essentially mean being in the moment mentally and physically. Instead of spending your time and energy worrying about the future or replaying the past, simply being present in the moment.
Small moments of mindfulness incorporated into your day-to-day can help you bring back your mind to the present. Think of something that you do every day or every patient.
Whether opening the door to enter a patients room, taking the stairs or pressing the button for the elevator, or signing your progress note or pressing ENTER on that order set – what is something that is already a part of your day that you can use as a trigger for mindfulness.
When your hand touches that doorknob, presses that elevator button or signs those orders, center yourself on this patient, this moment, and remember why you are there.
We don’t always get it right. Mistakes happen. Patient interactions are hard. We mess things up.
We forget to be grateful for things because we are too busy documenting and saving lives. Because we are deep in the throes of covering for a colleague out on leave.
Show yourself the same grace and self-compassion during difficult moments.
Recognize and acknowledge your own dedication and the resilience of your patients and colleagues.
Take a Breath –
Take a deep breath – breath in deeply and breathe out slowly.
Try box breathing – in for 4, hold for 4, out for 4, hold for 4 and repeat.
Try a deep breath in a long, slow exhale.
Do these breathing tactics while you are washing your hands, walking to a patient room, or signing your note.
Just because your breathing is regulated by your autonomic nervous system doesn’t mean that it should be on autopilot throughout the day.
Take back control of your breath.
Deepen Your Connection with Patients –
In your interactions with patients, take time to ask them about more than their pain, their cough or prostate symptoms.
That deep personal connection gives such a richness to the reason that we went into medicine in the first place. Those patients are people. We wanted to take care of them. It’s the reason we chose healthcare as our career path.
Learning about patient’s lives, their stories, their experiences helps us to appreciate the opportunity to be a part of their lives.
Practicing gratitude doesn’t have to be time consuming. It shouldn’t feel like a burden or just one other thing on your to-do list. Choose a couple of strategies from this list
There you have it – 7 ways that you can increase gratitude in your life.
As for me, on this day when we celebrate gratitude and practice gratefulness – I wanted to share that I am so incredibly grateful for you.
The amazing thing about PAs is that we belong to this incredible community. There is something special about being a part of this club of PAs.
Thank you for being here. Over the years of producing The PA Is In podcast episodes I’ve found myself to be feeling that sense of increasing gratitude.
If you are working today – thank you for working today, any night, any weekend, any holiday, any day that you have something important outside the walls of work that you really wanted to be there for.
I’m glad you’re here.
I’m grateful that you are a part of this community.
I’m excited that you found me.
I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity to hit record and pop into your podcast or youtube episode queue.
I’m ecstatic that you pressed subscribe to tune in to learn how to be a more resilient, positive, grateful provider.
I cannot believe that I have this blessing of an opportunity to speak into your life and lift you up and encourage you!
That I get to remind you that there is so much to be grateful for in your life and at work.
That you get to see that, even when times are hard and schedules are full and stress is through the roof, that you are building resilience that will serve you well down the road.
That your patients and loved ones are blessed by you as much as you are blessed by them.
That you have so much to give and so much to gain in this life.
To remind you that you are doing an incredible job.
To say keep up the good work and give yourself grace and a break.
To share my love and ever increasing gratitude for you and this community!
Be well and be grateful.
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Like this post? Check out this vulnerable look at gratitude and growth & how to grow your gratitude practice in 10-minutes a day.