Wellness Services: express gratitude every day



Guest Column

Editor’s Note: This guest column was submitted by Student Wellness Services.

November is a time of busy schedules, heavy academic commitments and stretching ourselves to meet the needs of others. The colors of the trees changing and leaves falling reminds us that autumn is a season of transition. We shift into wearing sweaters, drinking warm beverages, and turning our clocks back. These little moments remind us to reflect on how we have transformed as individuals throughout the year. Our thoughts may be filled with observations of what we learned in our studies, what we accomplished as leaders, or what we discovered about ourselves. During this time of contemplation, it is important to implement an attitude of gratitude towards our growth.

Expressing gratitude can result in several beneficial outcomes. Ryan M. Niemic, author of “Character Strengths Interventions,” places substantial emphasis on the overall perks of spotlighting a grateful mindset in our lifestyle. Niemic claims that gratitude positively correlates with “positive emotion, life satisfaction, optimism, prosocial behavior, increased cardiovascular and immune functioning, longevity, lower levels of anxiety and depression, openness to experience, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and low neuroticism.” This means that with every effort to extend gratitude, each one of these aspects of our lives has the opportunity to increase. In other words, we have every reason to practice being thankful. This process can only transform us to have a brighter perspective on life.

Gratitude is a muscle that all of us are capable of developing, as long as we focus on turning our attention to fine tuning it. There are several ways we can implement every day activities rooted in gratitude. Below is a list of ideas to get you brainstorming:

• Keep a gratitude journal

• Mail a handwritten letter of gratitude to someone special in your life

• Compliment a stranger

• Reflect through mediation

• Say three things you’re grateful for in the morning or right before bed

Student Wellness Services at UNI offers a variety of opportunities for you to exercise these activities. We want to help students find the strategies that work for them so they are able to feel the benefits of gratitude, including lowered stress, better sleep and stronger relationships. One strategy we have available is the labyrinth, a meditative tool student organizations, groups, and classes can request to utilize. The labyrinth at UNI is a large cloth, canvas designed with circular patterns that have one path leading to the center of the circle and then back out again that participants walk on for meditation purposes. At first glance, it may seem similar to a maze, yet it is very different. There are no wrong turns, no dead ends and no tricks. The labyrinth is one of the oldest contemplative tools, used for centuries for meditation and personal growth. UNI students who have participated in walking the labyrinth describe it as “relaxing, peaceful, centering, and reflective.” We also have resources to help you practice gratitude on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. in the Makerspace of Rod Library (LIB 286). Our Wellness Ambassadors will have activities to help you learn how to include gratitude in your day-to-day routine.

How are you practicing gratitude? Let us know by commenting on our social media posts this month! Check us out on Facebook (UNI Student Wellness Services), Instagram (unisws) and Twitter (@UNI_SWS)! Let’s work together to spread an attitude of gratitude around campus.

If your organization is interested in requesting the labyrinth, please email Student Wellness Services at [email protected] for more information.