In a year marked by stress, fear, anger and division for many across the nation, the holiday season from now until the new year seems poised to offer respite from all the negativity. We’re grateful that season begins this week with a holiday dedicated to gratitude.

Research has shown that expressing thanks and focusing on finding the small silver linings among all that may be going wrong is beneficial to one’s health and can enhance one’s overall quality of life.

According to the National Institutes of Health, gratitude can also help individuals better cope with stress in their daily lives. Studies from the National Alliance on Mental Illness have also shown that practicing gratitude can lower your risks for mental health issues. And per the American Heart Association, practicing gratitude can improve your immune system.

So as we approach Thanksgiving, let’s begin with gratitude and reflect on ways to be thankful despite a pandemic. Here are 14 lessons we have taken away from the global health crisis that remind us to be grateful:

How do we heal in 2020? This world religious leader says it starts with gratitude
  1. Time with loved ones should not be taken for granted. Take time to appreciate the extra moments with those you care about most, and remember fondly the time you had with those you’ve lost. 
  2. The great outdoors are beneficial for our mental, physical and social health. Spend some time enjoying them and appreciating the beauty they provide. 
  3. Technology can be a great tool for bringing people together over shared experiences. Use it wisely.
  4. Scientists and expert researchers are working tirelessly to find solutions to the challenges we face. Appreciate the work they do.
  5. Health care professionals have been working overtime to serve those affected by the pandemic and related health complications. We’re grateful for their desire to help everyone regardless of race, class, background or politics.
  6. Every person has the opportunity to become a blessing in another person’s life. Look for opportunities to serve and help others.
  7. New challenges come everyday, but each challenge is an opportunity to grow stronger.
  8. A sense of purpose can make each day more worthwhile. Find something you care about and pursue it.
  9. Health is never a guarantee, even for those who are young. Treat your body and mind in the ways that will benefit them.
  10. Not everyone has access to food and clean drinking water. If you have it, don’t take it for granted, and try not to waste.
  11. Serving and helping others not only blesses lives but lift’s one’s own spirits, too. Take the time to notice and find ways to meet the needs of others. 
  12. The people around you matter. Treat them with kindness and respect, whether they are your family, your friends or just your roommates. 
  13. More time at home offers a chance to better build the foundation of society. Set aside time each day to improve your home and family relationships in ways that will pay dividends down the road. 
  14. We are stronger when we are united in our country, communities and families. Don’t let differences of opinion or experience pull you apart. Seek for ways to unite and build cooperation and understanding with those who differ. 
A recipe for dispelling despair: Try the healing power of gratitude