Today’s Star columnist, Dr Mary Wren - Be thankful for your health

UGC Columnist Dr Mary Wren.''Dr Mary Wren has worked in Sheffield for 20 years. She offers advice on health issues every Saturday.

UGC Columnist Dr Mary Wren.''Dr Mary Wren has worked in Sheffield for 20 years. She offers advice on health issues every Saturday.

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Christmas has come and gone again and the things we thought we needed a month ago maybe seem less important now. It can be a good time to think about what we really have and what is really important in life, rather than what we think we need.

I have been thinking about thankfulness or gratitude. There are some very interesting studies in America showing a link between our health and how thankful we are. Grateful people are more likely to take better care of themselves, exercise more, have stronger immune systems, be more mentally alert and cope better with stress. They are also less likely to visit the doctor and have less physical symptoms. Another study supports an association between gratitude and an individual’s well-being. “Managers who remember to say “thank you” to people who work for them find that employees feel motivated to work harder.”

So how can we be thankful? Findings suggest that it’s not how much you have, but how you feel about what you have, that makes the difference. Your attitude plays a large role in determining whether you feel grateful in spite of life’s challenges. So whatever situation we are in or how little we have, we can still be thankful.

We can make a deliberate choice to look outside of ourselves and be grateful for the people we meet in a day. We can be grateful we have a bed to sleep in or food today. We can be grateful for a kind word from someone or the warmth of the sun and the flowers in a garden. We can be thankful for sight and hearing and that we live in a country where we have freedom to move around. Writing a list of things to be thankful for helps.

We can also look for ways to say thank you to others – the cashier at the supermarket, the person holding a door open or a neighbour popping round to say hello. You could even consider saying thank you to the health care workers at your surgery or hospital.

So this year wouldn’t it be amazing if we can see that happiness really comes from wanting what we have rather than having what we want.

The more we are grateful for what we have, the less we need and the more we can give. It could transform your health and life.

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