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The holidays are a time of giving and thankfulness, something we keep in mind from November through the New Year. But what happens when season ends?

Well, keep thinking gratefully! As it turns out, science has proven that thankfulness is good for you no matter what the season.

Beyond the Thankful Turkey

As a child, my family had a tradition called the ‘Thankful Turkey’ during the month of November. My mom would print off a picture of a turkey, and every morning on our way to school, each family member would write down one thing they were thankful for on the Thankful Turkey.

At the end of the month, and just in time for Thanksgiving, we had a list of all the wonderful things we were grateful for. But most importantly we learned to stop and think about the big and little things on a daily basis.

But that’s exactly it. You can be grateful all year – for big and little things! And getting in the habit of doing it daily is just the right way to start.

So why bother to stop and smell the roses? Well, research also shows thankfulness can engender happiness. Sometimes it’s hard to be happy when you fail to recognize everything you have.

This idea is infectious. You may have seen challenges pop up on Facebook and Instagram like “100 Happy Days,” where people take stock of what makes them happy for 100 days. Studies show that practicing gratitude and counting your blessings helps reduce stress, too.

What are you grateful for?

Take a minute to think about it.

Gratitude isn’t seasonal – it’s something you can practice. You don’t have to stop being thankful after Thanksgiving – in fact it’s better for your health if you keep an attitude of gratitude all year round. Check out these added health benefits by simply being grateful:

  • Stress Reduction: Starting and ending your day by focusing on all of the good things happening in your life can help you better manage stress. Recognizing what you’re thankful for can help put things in to perspective.
  • Motivation to take care of yourself physically: Grateful people are more likely to realize the value of their health and make maintaining their health a priority. You’ll find that extra internal motivation to hit the gym before work, or eat a healthy family meal, because you recognize that not everyone is fortunate enough to be able to do so.
  • Extra Zzzzz: Trying to fit in those recommended 8 hours of sleep? Taking stock of all that you’re thankful can help you get there. Clearing your mind of negative thoughts can help you drift off more quickly.
  • Better friendships: Being grateful will make you a better friend and enhance your relationships, giving you a powerful support system to help you when the road gets rough.
  • Better quality of life: It’s not just about quantity, it’s about quality. Even if you live to be 100, make sure those 100 years are worth remembering. Being grateful every step of the way can help with memory retention, forgiveness, and increased positivity.

So remember to think beyond the Thankful Turkey and give gratitude a try. You may realize you have a lot more to be thankful for than you thought. We’d love to hear how you remain thankful all year long.

[Top Image: Shutterstock]

About Allison Bonner

Allison Bonner works in Community Relations at BCBSNC where she coordinates and oversees community partnerships and employee volunteer opportunities. She’s deeply passionate about giving back to the community and changing the world one small step at a time.