Take Action for Self-Care #5: The Art of Gratitude 

This message is repeated in Spanish below. 

Making time for self-care isn’t easy, especially when we’re busy and overwhelmed with many concerns such as work, school and the ongoing pandemic.  Mindfulness can be a first step for anyone who struggles with self-care. While there is a very deep body of work to be explored and practiced for those who are interested (like Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction) experimenting with mindfulness is available to anyone.  

A good place to start is to consciously shift our awareness to the smallest moments of joy we experience -a good laugh, a friendly hello, or feeling touched by a kind word or gesture. Research has found that small moments of positivity can accumulate over time and form new pathways in our brain. As a result, feelings of positivity and gratitude become easier the more we experience them. 

Another starting point is to think about someone or something we are grateful for. The ways we show and practice gratitude can differ based on our culture, background, upbringing, and personalities. “Connective gratitude” is practiced in various cultures and occurs when we show gratitude in a meaningful and personalized way, thinking about how we can pass kindness to others. Though not the answer in every situation, gratitude can bring us closer together, giving us hope as we focus on something, or someone, that is going well. 

Practicing gratitude is an important skill that can strengthen our relationships, and relationships are an important part of our self-care practice. This Self-Care Assessment asks us to think about our relationships.  Do you schedule regular activity with your partner/spouse or your children? Do you make time to see friends? Do you stay in contact with relatives and faraway friends? Allow others to do things for you? Do you ask for help when you need it? 

With all this in mind, the Directing Change Program asked youth to reflect on “the Art of Gratitude” through art, film and narrative in November 2021.  We hope you will take a moment to draw inspiration from their creativity. 

For 24/7 emotional support for you or your loved one, reach out to these resources: 

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