The Power of Gratitude and Resilience During Stressful Times

Close up of a young family using a laptop in the morning , while the father is talking on the phone

Across our communities, state, and country, many are experiencing high levels of pandemic-related stress and anxiety. We cannot simply avoid stressful situations altogether, but we can develop skills to better manage our reactions and support our emotional well-being through them.

What is gratitude?

More than just saying ‘thank you,’ gratitude is a general state of thankfulness, an appreciation of what is valuable or meaningful in one’s life, according to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. Gratitude is a powerful tool during uncertain times because it directs our mindset away from negative or anxious feelings by acknowledging the positive elements in our lives.

What is resilience?

Resilience is the process of adapting in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, or other significant sources of stress, according to Everyday Health. Like any skill, resilience can be developed to help manage stress and emotions during times of crisis.

Benefits of resiliency and gratitude in the workplace

Resiliency and gratitude can be practiced anywhere, especially the workplace. Many employers utilize gratitude within their organizations to improve workplace culture. At Southwest Airlines, gratitude is a fundamental pillar of employee well-being. One way the company lets employees know they are appreciated is by acknowledging special events in their lives – kids’ graduations, marriage, family illness etc. – with flowers and cards.

Personal benefits of gratitude and resilience

  • Stronger immune system
  • Reduced aches and pains
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Motivation to take better care of physical health (exercise and healthy diet)
  • Improved sleep quality
  • Boost in positive emotions, joy, and pleasure
  • More energy
  • Increased optimism and happiness

Business benefits

When employees practice gratitude and develop resilience, they bring those personal benefits with them to work. In addition, 80 percent of employees feel motivated to work harder when their employer shows appreciation for their work and accomplishments. Business benefits include:

  • Positive workplace environment
  • Stronger business relationships
  • Better engagement
  • Improved productivity

Strategies for practicing gratitude and developing resilience

  • Start a gratitude journal: make a list of five things you are grateful for each morning and before you go to bed. This simple task shifts the mindset to a more positive state.
  • Become self-aware: Resilience requires an individual to go against their brain’s normal response when faced with stressful situations. Becoming more self-aware can help identify and manage anxious feelings. To become more self-aware:
      • Identify the thought or feeling you are having. Pay attention to your automatic or triggered reaction. For example, opening the fridge when you feel stressed.
      • Evaluate options for positive responses instead.
      • Choose to act accordingly.
  • Express gratitude to your team: Berkley University explains gratitude as recognizing how the positive things in our lives, such as work or career-related success, are often due to forces outside of ourselves and particularly the efforts of other people. Express gratitude to your coworkers on a consistent basis to help foster a healthy work environment.
  • Practice coping methods: Learning coping methods will prepare you for the emotional shifts that come during stressful times, explains Everyday Health.
      • Deep breathing: calms the central nervous system during times of panic or general discomfort.
      • Meditation: create a daily habit of quieting your mind and focusing on your breath to relieve built-up stress.
      • Exercise: daily exercise is a natural stress reliever. You don’t need to engage in high intensity workouts to experience these benefits. Simply taking a walk everyday will do wonders for the mind.

Stress during these uncertain times cannot be avoided, but it can be minimized with resilience and gratitude. Encouraging your team to foster a positive mindset will translate to healthier employees and a healthier work environment overall.