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I am Grateful; Utilizing gratitude to maintain health.

As we begin this holiday season I wanted to take a moment to express my thanks to the many people I am surrounded by and explain why daily gratitude (not just on Thanksgiving) is so important. Being grateful brings conscious awareness to the good things in your life.  It is a way to take notice and appreciate what we have rather than always focusing on things that might or might not make us happy. Let me begin by offering gratitude to the many people, friends, family, co-workers and people whom I feel humbled by each day.

Of course, I have to begin with family.  I am so grateful for my loving family. I am blessed to have aunts, uncles, cousins and in-laws who are an important part of my life. Despite not seeing them often, the time we have together is always cherished. I am thankful for my parents for being so supportive of me and my sister who always makes me laugh.  I am so grateful to my wonderful husband who gave me the green light to open my own business and has been my partner in raising three wonderful children.

I am so thankful for my wonderful friends, who bring laughter, love, cheer and emotion to my life.  I would not be who I am today without the influence of all of you!  I am grateful to my co-workers who are tremendous women.  You are compassionate, kind and genuinely and deeply care for every client we see.  I could not ask for more passionate exemplary people to spend my days with.  To each patient I have ever treated, I AM GRATEFUL.  I learn more from you than from any text book or research article.  I learn to be humble, to listen and to believe.

Gratitude is well studied.  According to the Harvard Medical School, people who exercise regular thankfulness are more optimistic and feel better about their lives.  People who focus on gratitude exercise more, have fewer doctor visits, and show higher scores on happiness measures than those who do not.  These benefits bring lasting effects.  Other studies have examined how being grateful improves relationships.  Taking the time to thank the people around you makes them feel better about themselves. It isn’t just about you – it’s a benefit to all who you encounter. That is the beauty of its reach.

To all who read this blog: THANK YOU!  I appreciate your time and consideration.  As you come into this week of Thanksgiving, remember to bring that token of gratefulness with you throughout this holiday season, and into the coming weeks and months.  It will bring lasting improvements to your mood and health, and will boost up those around you who may need a little pick me up. In this season of “wants,” it is healing to examine our emotional needs, and consider all we have to be grateful for.

A very simple way to enhance your positive vibes and benefit from gratitude is to keep a notebook or find an app that lets you log the things you are grateful for each day. This does not have to be profound. Simply, I am happy the sun is shining, or I am grateful for the man who held the door for me in the coffee shop. Another nice activity is to write things down that were good each day and put them in a jar. Then, at the end of the week, read them back to remember how many good things you felt over the week. You will be surprised how nice it is to reflect on all the good things!

Sarah Dominguez PT, MSPT, CLT, WCS

Sarah is the proud co-owner of Foundational Concepts, Specialty Physical Therapy which opened in March 2013. Sarah lectures at the University of Missouri Department of PT, University of Kansas Departments of PT and Nurse Midwifery, and at Rockhurst University Department of PT. She is board certified in Women’s Health PT and holds certifications in medical therapeutic yoga, lymphedema therapy and dry needling.

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