By Donald Lachman, Special Projects Coordinator, and Andrea Talmadge, Regional Coordinator
We now know that when Bing Crosby crooned the song, “Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep,” in the famous holiday movie, “White Christmas,” he was offering very powerful self-care advice. Multiple studies now confirm what many people already believed – that counting one’s blessing and having gratitude is a powerful influencer contributing to better overall health. We think this is particularly important for members of the WestCare family because of the professional burnout associated with service organizations assisting people – many of whom are presenting complex individual health, social, and justice issues.
The current research demonstrates that feeling grateful has wide-ranging positive effects on people. These effects can include increased personal well-being (Watkins 2004; McCullough et al. 2004) and lowered stress as well as a reduction of negative states such as depression and social anxiety (Kashdan and Breen 2007). The positive effects of gratitude may also include physical well-being such as better sleep quality (Emmons and McCullough 2003; Digdon and Koble 2011). Grateful thoughts before falling asleep are associated with higher individual quality of sleep and with improved functioning the following day (Wood et al. 2009b). Similarly, research suggests that feelings of gratitude are associated with other positive outcomes such as emotional and social functioning (Wood et al. 2010).
At WestCare Washington, our small but mighty team have many blessings for which we are grateful. Among the most significant in our lives is being a member of the WestCare family. As we have cautiously navigated the COVID-19 pandemic, the guidance and support regularly provided by WestCare’s leadership and staff emerged as an essential and trusted lifeline. Like a lighthouse shining through a turbulent storm, we had confidence that WestCare’s leadership was the beacon to help us successfully navigate our first and hopefully the last pandemic. This assistance ranged from program development and guidance to detailed attention to our individual safety as well as the clients we serve. Our trust has been well placed and we are very grateful. We encourage all of our colleagues to regularly take time for gratitude and to count their blessings. It will likely contribute to a happier and healthier you! Wishing you a safe and happy holiday season.