This past Thanksgiving, I hope you were able to connect with your loved ones in some way despite the COVID-19 restrictions we continue to face.  Aside from the delicious food, one of my favourite things about this holiday is its ability to allow us to pause and reflect about the things we are grateful for in life.  Expressing our gratitude is an effective way of bringing positivity into our lives and improving our mental health.  Now more than ever, I think it’s important for us to come together and support one another each and every day, not just on Thanksgiving.  While many of us expressed thanks in the privacy of our homes, it’s important we extend this sentiment to our workplaces as well.

In order to accomplish this, I’ve highlighted a few different ways you can show your gratitude to yourself and your colleagues, as well as the positive benefits that come along with doing so.  I encourage you to share these initiatives with your team to help spread positivity and build a cohesive team throughout the year.

Write a thank you note

Think about the last time you genuinely thanked someone.  How did it make you feel?  A study at University of California, Berkley found that by writing letters of gratitude, a person can experience better mental health by shifting one’s attention away from toxic emotions.  By focusing on positivity and gratefulness, researchers found that it can become harder to ruminate on negative experiences.

It’s one thing to say thanks verbally, and it’s another to say it through writing.  Not only can the process of writing be therapeutic, but by writing a thank you letter or email to a colleague, you leave a lasting impression.  It also shows your colleague that you took the time to express your thoughts in a meaningful way.

Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness can have many positive benefits on our mental health, and it’s also a good technique to help us refocus our attention and thoughts and bring us into the present moment.  If you’ve practiced mindfulness in the past, or if you’re looking to try it out for the first time, I recommend completing a mindfulness exercise that emphasizes gratitude.  Mindfulness exercises are also good ice breakers that can be completed during team meetings.

Build a gratitude board

Similar to a vision board, a gratitude board allows your employees to visually represent their gratitude for their coworkers.  I recommend keeping your gratitude board in a prominent location in your workplace.  If you and your coworkers are currently working virtually, you can create a similar sentiment by creating a group chat specifically for expressing thanks.

With our minds focused on more COVID updates, election madness, and a possible recession, we need to all remember to pause for a moment and reflect on things we should be grateful for.  By implementing initiatives to help foster gratitude in the workplace, you can help improve employee morale and build a more cohesive team.  Your Employee Assistance Program is also a great resource that provides access to certified mental health counsellors who can help you reshape your thinking process to incorporate more positivity into your life!