Burnout is a very real thing and is being felt by healthcare professionals now more than ever. It can leave you feeling physically and mentally exhausted, less able to connect with patients, and unable to find meaning in work. 

As the healthcare profession struggles to address this crisis of burnout, some have turned to an innovative remedy – practicing gratitude in healthcare. But what does this mean, to practice gratitude? And why is it so important to alleviate the stresses placed upon healthcare workers? Let’s take a look.

Gratitude in Healthcare

What are the benefits of practicing gratitude in healthcare? 

In addition to reducing burnout among healthcare professionals, research shows that practicing gratitude can have a significant impact on all aspects of your life and health. 

Helps to nurture relationships

By recognizing that much of the good and happiness in our lives comes from the people around us, we feel even more gratitude and these feelings strengthen our community and improve our relational bonds.

Fosters optimism

Although it’s not always easy to spot the silver lining, having a positive attitude can help you push through challenging situations and navigate life more healthily and skillfully.

Increases overall happiness and well-being

Practicing gratitude allows you to focus on the present and appreciate what you have now rather than what you don’t have. It also creates positive emotions like joy, love, and contentment which has proven to suppress negative emotions such as fear and anxiety.

Improves patient care

Not only does gratitude have a positive impact on healthcare professionals themselves, but research shows that it also impacts the care patients receive.

Gratitude in Healthcare

What are some ways to practice gratitude? 

Now that we understand the importance of practicing gratitude, we look at simple ways to incorporate gratitude into your everyday life.

Express gratitude to those around you

This can be as simple as a handwritten note to a colleague who helped you through a difficult time or just always knows how to put a smile on your face.

Express gratitude to yourself 

Make it a daily habit by incorporating it into something you are doing anyway. For instance, the next time you brush your teeth, look at yourself in the mirror and think of three things you are grateful for. Get in the habit of practicing gratitude daily, and notice the incredible effects it has on your mentality.

Take a deep breath

Time demands and high-stakes situations mean that many health care professionals are running all day. Research has found that deep breaths calm the stress-driven sympathetic nervous system and activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps us bond with others, partly thanks to the hormone oxytocin.

Pay it forward

Gratitude offers a positive cycle. Upon receiving a gift, one feels a surge of positive emotion and a desire to give back, which can motivate us to “pay it forward” by helping someone else.

As a healthcare professional, your job is to take care of other people’s minds, bodies, and spirits—but it is just as important to take care of your own. Practicing gratitude year-round is one step that you can take towards becoming a healthier and happier person that will, in turn, help you to provide improved care to your patients.