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The holidays are coming, and with them can come challenges and stress. It can be hard to get around in wintry weather, afford gifts, and get enough time with friends and family.

Along with these struggles, though, the holiday season can bring comforts. You may find a little warmth in the winter by noticing the good things and people in your life. And it turns out that this awareness could be quite healthy.

Gratitude: a healthy habit

Studies suggest that appreciating what’s going well for you may enhance your well-being. Taking a little time to feel gratitude each day may:1

Boost your emotional health by helping you cope with stress
Help your body’s health, such as by lowering your chance of heart disease

Making gratitude a daily habit may remind you of the good things in your life even when bad things are happening. It can help to remember that even though you have some challenges, other things are going your way.1

Take a daily 10

Here’s a way to make gratitude a regular part of your life:1

Take 10 minutes each day for a gratitude practice. You can try it first thing in the morning or right before you sleep.
Think about the parts of your life that make you smile or feel a bit lighter. They can be little things, like enjoying a cup of hot coffee. Or they can be more impactful, like getting quality time with your family.
Give yourself a few moments to just remember these positive experiences. What took place? How did it feel? Let yourself fully enjoy the memories.
Write the experiences down in a journal. Later, if you’re feeling blue, reread some of your journal entries.
Let someone know. If you feel grateful for someone, you might tell them. Odds are, they’ll be grateful to hear it!

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Mindfulness for More Calm

#BestMe Corner

Ever hear someone say they’re going out of their mind with stress? What if there were a way to do the opposite to become more mindfull for calm?

Mindfulness is a practice for centering on the present. Instead of following our minds on the wild rides of thinking about past troubles and future worries, we just focus on present awareness. We notice the sights, sounds, and all that we’re aware of around us. We notice our thoughts and feelings, too. And we just keep letting these thoughts and experiences go, and letting life unfold moment to moment. We don’t judge any of it.2

Living mindfully means letting go of living on autopilot. We become more aware — of our breath, our feet on the ground, our hands moving, and events around us. Studies suggest that mindfulness practices may help people:2

Manage stress
Cope with serious illness
Boost memory, learning, and emotion
Reduce stress, anxiety, and depression
Lose weight

Try these tips often:2

Breathe deeply. Count to four as you breathe in through your nose. Hold your breath for one second. Then count to five as you exhale through the mouth.
Take a walk and notice the sights and sounds around you. Note any thoughts you have, but then just let the thoughts go and return to observing.
Eat mindfully. Notice the fragrance of your food and drinks. Be aware of the taste, textures, and flavors in each bite. Listen to your body tell you when you’re hungry and when you’re full.

Support at your fingertips

Everyone can use emotional support at some time in their lives. For AmeriHealth Caritas District of Columbia (DC) enrollees age 13 and older, this support can be right at your fingertips:

Enrollees ages 13 – 20 can access MindRight. MindRight is a network of coaches trained to help youth navigate the stress and other challenges of daily life.
Enrollees ages 21 and older can access the Ginger Emotional Support app. Through the app, enrollees can receive emotional support for life’s challenges anytime.

Both services are available at no cost to AmeriHealth Caritas DC enrollees and offer support via live text.* Questions? Call our Enrollee Services at 1-800-408-7511 (TTY 202-216-9885).

* Standard messaging and data fees may apply.

Find us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/amerihealthdc.

Find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AmeriHealthCaritasDC.

Find us on Instagram at www.instagram.com/AmeriHealthCaritasDC.

The information in this article is to help you learn more about this topic. It is not to take the place of your health care provider. If you have questions, talk with your health care provider. If you think you need to see your health care provider because of something you have read in this information, please contact your health care provider. Never stop or wait to get medical attention because of something you have read in this material.

Sources:

1. Practicing Gratitude,” National Institutes of Health, https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2019/03/practicing-gratitude.
2. “Mindfulness Matters,” National Institutes of Health, https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2012/01/mindfulness-matters.

All images are used under license for illustrative purposes only. Any individual depicted is a model

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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