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Connection Corner

A grateful November family activity

two pairs of holding hands over a dinner table full of food

November is national gratitude month and is a wonderful time to reflect on things you are appreciative of and to be more aware of the goodness around you. It seems like in recent years, there has been an increased focus on gratefulness during this month, and we see flurries of social media posts about gratitude. Why such an emphasis on gratitude in recent years?

Research shows that practicing gratitude can have dramatic and lasting effects on an individual. Positive effects include physical benefits such as lowered blood pressure, increased immunity and better sleep; as well as mental health benefits such as lower risk for depression and anxiety (Emmons, 2015).

Knowing how much practicing gratitude can impact the well-being of an individual is a great reason to start practicing gratitude at home if you aren’t already. One simple way to do that is to create family gratitude posters, which was an activity from our Connection Corner family activity kits. These can be done individually or together as a family.

Start by making a list of things you are grateful for (this could be people, places, experiences, possessions or memories or special times). Once you have done that, you can look for pictures or make drawings to represent the items you have come up with that you are grateful for. Put those pictures together as a collage to represent all you are grateful for this year. If you keep them over time, it would be fun to go back and see what things have changed over the years.

In my family, during the month of November, we do a gratefulness poster, but in a slightly different way. We create a Thankful Tree by cutting leaves out of paper, on which we then write out what we are thankful for. Each of us try to add one or two new leaves each day so by the end of the month, our tree is full of thankful leaves. So, it doesn’t matter whether you decide to create your thankful activity as a poster or tree, or whether you decide to do it together at one time or spread it out over the month. The important thing is to take the time to be mindful of what you have and thankful for those around you who have made a positive difference in your life.

If you are interested in learning more about the benefits of practicing gratitude or other ideas for your family to do together, check out an earlier post with ideas such as journaling and writing thank-you notes, as well as additional research on the benefits of gratitude.

Judy Schmidt provides leadership to 4-H metro programming in Peoria County. Schmidt joined Extension in 2001, working as a Youth Development Educator at the East Peoria Center and joined the Fulton-Mason-Peoria-Tazewell unit in 2011. Her work focuses on 4-H youth development programming in the local metropolitan area, specifically leading positive youth development initiatives for after-school programs, community groups, 4-H clubs and other youth-serving organizations. Her areas of expertise include positive youth development principles, youth leadership, and work with teens as teachers.

Connection Corner is a blog that provides timely information, activities, and resources to help you stay connected to loved ones, the world around you, and yourself.