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By: Caroline Capriccio, Youth Development Specialist, The PATH
Since the start of COVID-19, it feels as though our lives have been turned upside down. The same holds true for the millions of students whose school lives have suddenly been disrupted.
The stress of the pandemic – mixed with the academic pressures of virtual learning and the physical separation from peers and teachers – have left many feeling anxious, depressed and upset. And while it can be difficult for students to stay optimistic during this "new normal," focusing on gratitude may help to shift their perspective.
Gratitude, the practice of noticing and being thankful for things that are valuable to us, can be great for your mental and physical health. Its benefits are wide ranging and can enhance your quality of life. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, people who practiced gratitude showed a significantly lower risk for major depression and generalized anxiety disorder. Similarly, the National Institutes of Health suggests that focusing on positive emotions can help improve your ability to cope with stress.
With this information in mind, student members of The PATH's Be the Change Club at Carteret Middle School tried their hand at practicing gratitude. As an activity, each member traced their hand on to a piece of paper and wrote something they were grateful for on each of their fingers. Then, on their palms each member wrote a positive and uplifting message to remind us that even in the darkest times there is still room for joy. Overall, this activity allowed students to recognize, focus on, and appreciate the good in their lives.
For more insights on the importance of gratitude during COVID-19, check out this article on Advent Health.