March 25, 2021

Gratitude Can Help People Emerge Healthier and Happier from Pandemic

Madison, Wisconsin - Feeling grateful may not come easily during difficult times, but research shows that expressing gratitude can help us to emerge from a crisis with a healthier perspective on our experience and create a more hopeful and optimistic path forward.

While this past year has caused all of us to reflect on what we've lost during the pandemic, UW Health Distinguished Psychologist Shilagh Mirgain says now is a good time to identify, acknowledge and express the things that we appreciate and are grateful for in our lives.

"Research on the benefits of gratitude during difficult times is overwhelmingly clear," Mirgain says. "Expressing positive emotions, including gratitude, improves our health, happiness and overall well-being. It is a free and easy practice that helps us focus on what we value, what is in our control and what we can give back to those who've helped us during our more difficult moments."

There are many ways in which we can express our gratitude toward others, Mirgain says, but she suggests it doesn't need to be more complicated than a phone call, sending a written or e-mailed letter, or simply telling somebody in person, if possible.

As National Doctors' Day approaches (Tuesday, March 30), UW Health is collecting messages of gratitude for the remarkable doctors who have worked tirelessly to care for the community throughout the pandemic. People who would like to thank a UW Health doctor, or other health care provider who has made a difference in their lives, can submit a message at www.uwhealth.org/gratitude.