‘Tis the time of year---in the United States, anyway---for eating c..." /> ‘Tis the time of year---in the United States, anyway---for eating c..." />

Want to Experience More Gratitude? Get Some Rest!

person napping on a sofa‘Tis the time of year—in the United States, anyway—for eating copious amounts of food while surrounded by loved ones, otherwise known as Thanksgiving. Some celebrate with friends, others spend the day with family, but overall, most find a way to gather in the spirit of feasting and thankfulness.

In honor of this tradition, it seems appropriate to take a closer look at gratitude and its impact on overall well-being. Many people have heard of the benefits of expressing thanks, whether in the form of a daily gratitude journal or a consistent practice of acknowledging the good and saying a thank-you to the people responsible for it.

For mental health professionals in particular, research has found that taking the time to appreciate the things a person has in his or her life not only has the potential to boost mood and improve outlook, but also relieves job burnout (Lanham, Rye, Rimsky, and Weill, 2012). In a profession that requires a significant amount of giving to others in the form of time, energy, care, and concern, it is important to be vigilant when it comes to self-care.

Emotional exhaustion may lead to a host of issues, including depression, anxiety, and a lack of motivation and job satisfaction. Incorporating gratitude-based practices may help to prevent this dreaded downward spiral. In a study published in the Journal of Mental Health Counseling, researchers shared their findings based on questionnaires filled out by 65 counselors, case managers, clinical supervisors, employment/housing specialists, social workers, and psychologists (Lanham et al., 2012).

Although they admit the results pertain to a “relatively small” sample of people, it is still worth noting that a link was discovered between workplace-specific gratitude and burnout. Considering that being stressed out and tired at work naturally makes a positive perspective more challenging to sustain, it may not be the easiest thing to take a few moments to acknowledge the good while on the job.

But the researchers go on to cite additional studies that have shown the positive impact of gratitude on negative emotions and personal wellness, and they point out that simply writing down five things every day to be thankful for can do wonders for shifting a person’s mood to a more positive state—even at work.

The nice thing about a day like Thanksgiving is that most people do not have to go to work; they’re on holiday. With that in mind, another way to alleviate burnout is to get some rest, and let the body’s naturally restorative powers do their thing. Conveniently, getting adequate sleep has been shown to increase a person’s experience of gratitude.

According to a study conducted by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, not getting enough sleep leads to less feelings of appreciation and gratitude in general (Society for Personality and Social Psychology, 2013). And in relationships, when one partner gets inadequate sleep, he or she is less likely to feel or express gratitude for his or her partner; the other partner then feels less appreciation for him or her in response, and the cycle of ingratitude perpetuates until one person gets the rest they need.

If you are feeling overwhelmed and exhausted, a simple remedy may be to give thanks (even if it feels forced initially) and go to sleep; research suggests that life will appear sunnier in the morning.


  1. Lanham, M. E., Rye, M. S., Rimsky, L. S., and Weill, S. R. (2012, October). How gratitude relates to burnout and job satisfaction in mental health professionals. Journal of Mental Health Counseling, 34.4, 341–354.
  2. Society for Personality and Social Psychology. (2013, January 22). Discovery of surprising connections between our well-being and giving, getting, and gratitude. Medical News Today. MediLexicon, Intl. Published online November 26, 2013. Retrieved from http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/255164

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  • Lizz

    November 29th, 2013 at 11:00 AM

    How interesting… I have never really made that connection that getting inadequate sleep makes you less thankful and appreciative of others in your life. But thinking about it I think that we all know that it is true. When we are tired and have been burning the candle at both ends, is there really any one of us feeling thankful? No, most likely we are feeling tired and cranky and ill all of the time. Not the best way to show gratitude to our loved ones. So we all just need to go take a nap and really show our loved ones in a positive way just how much they mean to us!!

  • emory

    November 30th, 2013 at 5:14 AM

    I do see a thankfulness and a kindness like we usually do not see emerge around the holiday season, and maybe this is the key, that most of us actually do get a little more time off to rest and relax during this time so this prepas us to teh idea of being more kind and amiable toward one another. I realize that it is hard to have this kind of time during the mormal working year, but wouldn’t it be nice if we all had just a little more time every day to reflect on the things that are important to all of us so that we can share more of that gratitude each day?

  • Katy

    December 8th, 2013 at 4:37 AM

    I wish that I had seen this last week, but now I will just take it to heart for the remainder of the holiday season! Although this advice is universal and could be practiced all year!

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