‘The hustle and bustle of the holiday season can get the best of us and lessen the meaning of the very celebrations for which we prepare and anticipate. Holiday stress has a particular impact on women, who are more likely than men to report difficulty relaxing and increased stress during this time of year.(1)
Heightened holiday stress can lead to unhealthy behaviors, such as overeating or excessive drinking, and can cause chronic inflammation in our bodies. Fortunately, by on gratitude and making it a habit, we can can reduce holiday stress and enhance our health.
Enjoy Better Health by Giving Thanks
The holidays naturally provide us with many reasons to pause and reflect on experiences or people for whom we are grateful. Acknowledging and expressing that gratitude benefits not only our own health but the lives of those around us. Research shows that gratitude strengthens our immune system, lowers blood pressure and improves sleep. Gratitude also has the power to improve our relationships and increase feelings of joy, generosity, and optimism.(2)
Gratitude is not just beneficial during the holidays – by integrating gratitude in our daily lives we can increase our happiness and health all year long. Experts suggest that we experiment with gratitude practices to find ones that work the best for us and then we vary them over time. There are many ways to practice gratitude, some of which are described below:
1. Count Your Blessings – keep a Gratitude Journal to recall moments of gratitude each day.
2. Savor the Moment – take time to watch the sunset, enjoy laughter with friends, a meal with family. Pay attention to the positive sights, sounds and smells you encounter.
3. Say Thank You – write a thank you note to someone who has made an impact in your life. By acknowledging the intentions of others, you can improve their health and yours!
Experience the Power of Hope & Gratitude
We invite you to enjoy a moment of gratitude at UCSF Women’s Health Wednesday. On Wednesday, December 2nd, please drop by Ida’s Café from 11:30am – 1:30pm to paint a canvas with the theme of hope or gratitude for Art for Recovery’s display at Mission Bay Hospital. And if you’re looking for a gratitude practice, join a 10-minute Guided Gratitude session hosted by Dr. Eve Ekman from the UCSF Osher Center for Integrative Medicine between 12-1pm.
Throughout the month, share why you are grateful on Instagram or Twitter with #gratefulmoments. We look forward to your social media posts and seeing you on December 2nd for Women’s Health Wednesday!
Nancy Milliken, MD
Director, UCSF National Center of Excellence in Women’s Health
1. Holiday Stress. American Psychological Association (2012).
2. Why Gratitude is Good. The Greater Good (2015).