Benefits of Showing Gratitude to Healthcare Workers

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Every year on March 30, we recognize the impact that physicians and caregivers have on our lives and our loved one’s lives. And while the day is called “Doctor’s Day”, it’s also an opportunity to express gratitude for all healthcare workers, not just those in white coats. From physician assistants and nurses to administrative staff and environmental service workers, our hospitals are filled with dedicated men and women who have sacrificed so much to improve the lives of others, especially over the past year.

This #DoctorsDay, consider how expressing thanks to a healthcare worker could positively impact them and you. On the #LiveWellHealthy blog, Dr. Chahal shares 3 benefits of living with an attitude of #Gratitude: https://bit.ly/3kQsZoR.

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The trauma and stress that resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly taken a toll on our healthcare workers who have remained on the frontlines. Yet, I am proud to have witnessed the resilience of my colleagues as they’ve struggled through feelings of inadequacy as we learned how to care for patients suffering from COVID-19—a new disease that we knew little about.

That’s why this year, more than ever, I’ve resolved to live with an “attitude of gratitude”, acknowledging and appreciating all that I’ve received, both material and intangible. I’ve learned there are many benefits of showing gratitude to healthcare workers and everyone around me. These benefits positively impact the recipient, and they also benefit me. Here’s how.

Benefits of showing gratitude.

1. Giving thanks can make you live a happier and longer life.

Gratitude is derived from a Latin word meaning grace, favor, goodwill, kindness, and thanks. These words remind me of Thanksgiving, a season where we’re encouraged to be mindful and appreciative of the blessings in our lives. During Thanksgiving, don’t many of us feel closer to our family and loved ones? In turn, we feel more loved and happy. What if we lived that way all year long?

Research shows that gratitude is strongly associated with greater happiness because it helps us to form better emotions and cope with problems and stressors more effectively. The University of California conducted a study asking one group of participants to write down what they are thankful for and another group to journal things that irritate them. At the end of the ten-week study, those who expressed gratitude felt more hope and a general sense of wellbeing about their lives. And, they also had fewer visits to the doctor than those who wrote negative comments in the journal.

In another study, participants were asked to write and personally deliver a letter of gratitude to someone they were thankful for. Participants who did that had very high happiness scores and a general sense of well-being for a long time compared to those who did not.

This Doctor’s Day, consider writing a letter to a healthcare worker to let them know how they’re making a difference. It will certainly make their day, and it will make you feel good, too.

2. An attitude of gratitude leads to improved relationships.

When we express gratitude, we acknowledge what we have—both things we can hold and things we cannot, like relationships. In the process, we recognize that much of the good and happiness in our lives comes from the people around us. As a result, we feel even more gratitude and these feelings strengthen our community and improve our relational bonds.

In another study, researchers discovered that couples who expressed gratitude to their partner had better relationships, felt more positive feelings towards each other, and were more comfortable working through problems in their relationship.

That’s why as healthcare workers, it’s also important for us to express gratitude to our hospital leaders, colleagues, and employees that we work with daily. Doing so helps us to foster better camaraderie and strengthens our ability to work together through adverse situations.

3. Saying “thank you” to healthcare workers helps reduce burnout.

Many healthcare workers experience feelings of burnout, depression, and anxiety regularly. The nature of our job is to care for people in their most vulnerable state, and this is incredibly difficult when the outcome isn’t good. Many of us entered the healthcare profession wanting to change lives for the better, and when we don’t see that outcome, it’s hard to stay positive.

However, a simple expression of gratitude can cause our spirits to soar. When someone recognizes our efforts and lets us know how they’ve positively impacted their life, we feel as though we’ve done meaningful work. In turn, healthcare workers who feel appreciated are more motivated to continue delivering the best care possible. In fact, research shows that in work environments, managers who said “thank you” to their employees found that they worked harder and better as a team.

Expressing gratitude to healthcare workers doesn’t have to cost anything. Some of the most meaningful expressions of appreciation that I’ve received are notes or pictures from my patients sharing what they’ve been able to do after receiving my care.

How will you express gratitude to a healthcare worker this month?

Gratitude can be expressed in many ways. Living with an attitude of gratitude means being thankful for what you have now or even things from the past, such as memories. Being thankful helps you to maintain a hopeful and optimistic attitude, and it snowballs into positive feelings for others when you express your appreciation to someone else.

This Doctor’s Day, I encourage you to consider how you can express your gratitude for all of our healthcare heroes, regardless of the uniform they wear to work. It will make their day and it just might change your life, too.


Want to thank a healthcare worker at MedStar Health for making a positive impact on your life or a loved one’s life?
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