Julie Sherman-8.

A Season of Gratitude All Year Long

Between the negative barrage of daily news and the everyday stress that many of us face, it’s easy to get caught up in a negative way of thinking. It can feel like an endless cycle of complaining, feeling wronged, and getting angry and upset as the stress piles up. However, too much negative thinking can lead to poor health, including more inflammation and a weaker immune system.

“Gratitude is an attitude and being purposeful about it ultimately helps me become a better person.” – Julie Sherman, TriWest Employee

To balance out the negativity, we can shift our focus to gratitude instead. Gratitude is not about forcing ourselves to be happy all the time or pretending we don’t face challenges. It’s about appreciating what we have, focusing on what’s going well, and being thankful for the little things – a stranger holding the door for you, a good night’s sleep or a perfectly sunny fall day. Each of these small moments of gratitude can help create a positive change in your overall well-being.

Check out some health benefits and tips for practicing gratitude – as well as a close-up look at gratitude from a TriWest employee who shares her insight on its importance.

The Health Benefits of Gratitude

According to the American Heart Association, as well as the Department of Veterans Affairs, research indicates that gratitude can have lasting effects on a person’s health and well-being, including:

  • Lower blood pressure and improved immune function
  • More resilience in the face of stress and trauma
  • Better dietary behaviors and lower rates of smoking and substance use
  • More feelings of happiness, pride and hope
  • Lower rates of loneliness and isolation
  • Reduced risk for depression and anxiety
  • Improved sleep and energy levels

Tips for Practicing Gratitude

You don’t have to be “born happy” or have a life free from problems to be grateful. Practicing gratitude is a skill that takes practice. Little daily routines can help train your brain to a different way of thinking. Here are some simple tips for incorporating more gratitude into your life:

  • Start a gratitude journal. Write down three things each day that you’re grateful for. Research shows that writing down these things has an advantage over just thinking about them. Try a notebook, or consider posting your three things on social media each day, or use the notes section of your phone. Your list can include simple everyday things, the people in your life, gestures of kindness from others and more.
  • Change your mindset. Instead of apologizing and dwelling on what went wrong, try to change your mindset. Instead of saying “I’m sorry I’m complaining about this again,” try “Thank you for listening and supporting me.” Sometimes changing our attitude about things can help us focus on the positive.
  • Share your gratitude with others. Letting other people know that you appreciate them can help you feel good too. Write a note, make a quick visit to a neighbor, put together a small care package, or send an email or text to let people know you’re grateful. It can be as simple as turning to your partner and saying, “I really appreciate that you unloaded the dishwasher.”
  • Remind yourself to be grateful. Find a time each day that you can use as a reminder to be grateful. For example, when you sit down to eat dinner, stop to think about your meal and who you’re sharing it with. If your daily routine includes a trip to the gym, take a moment to appreciate what your body is doing.
  • Get involved with a cause. People who volunteer regularly often share how good it makes them feel. By getting involved in something that matters to you, you’ll end up being thankful for what you have and can offer others. Check out TriWest Employees Give Back in Meaningful Ways to get some inspiration.
  • Be grateful for your health. Even those of us with health problems can try to focus on the parts of our bodies that are working well. Maybe it’s your legs that powered you on a brisk walk today. Or your voice that won over a customer during a service call. Or your arms that pet your dog or hugged a friend.
  • Don’t assume you’ll be happy all the time. Life is still going to present challenging times – whether you’re experiencing a new health diagnosis, an end to a relationship or a difficult financial time. Those challenges don’t go away, but practicing gratitude can help you see the silver linings and find the good even amidst a bad situation. A grateful mindset can better equip you to handle the hard stuff.

An Up-Close Look at Gratitude With TriWest Employee Julie Sherman

Julie Sherman-11.Understanding the health benefits of gratitude and figuring out small ways to incorporate it into your life are important steps you can take to change your own outlook, but what about seeing it up close?

Julie Sherman has worked in health care for her entire career and has spent the last six years at TriWest Healthcare Alliance (TriWest). Julie is described by a TriWest colleague as “one of the most positive people you’ll ever meet.” Interested in capturing how she is able to maintain such a great attitude, we asked Julie a few questions about gratitude.

Julie has two children whom she described as “the joy of my life.” She loves spending time with her family and has a group of very close friends she leans on as well.

“We became friends 35 years ago!” she said.

Julie Sherman-6.But Julie’s life hasn’t been without its challenges. In July of 2022, Julie was diagnosed with breast cancer and went through an entire year of treatment.

When asked to reflect on how she was able to stay positive throughout such a difficult time, she noted, “I am purposeful about being positive and know that ultimately I can conquer every challenge in life.”

She focuses on keeping things in perspective as well. “I remind myself that my challenges are minor compared to many other people,” she said.

As of July 2023, Julie is cancer-free!

Julie says she’s always been a very positive and happy person, but admits that she works at it too.

“I express gratitude by doing a variety of small things – like thanking people for providing great service, tipping servers well for their hard work, and contributing to my church and other organizations that are important to me,” she shared.

She went on to share how simple acts of kindness, like helping a neighbor or bringing a meal to a sick friend, can have such a big impact.

“I enjoy sending notes and cards to family, friends, caregivers and others to express my gratitude – at totally random times throughout the year,” she said.

When she was going through cancer treatments, she found ways to express her appreciation to others in the midst of her own hardship.

“I brought cookies, cupcakes and other treats to the entire infusion staff at the Cancer Center for each of my treatments,” she recalled.

Julie incorporates this mindset into her family traditions as well.

“I journal an annual letter to my children on their birthday each year,” she shared. “Later in life, they will read them and relive so many wonderful memories.”

Her two children are 18 and 20 years old, and she has 18 entries for her son and 20 for her daughter.

Julie Sherman-13.“Practicing gratitude helps me to feel stronger physically, emotionally and mentally,” Julie said, reflecting on the benefits she gets from her outlook on life. “I know that gratitude is an attitude and being purposeful about it ultimately helps me become a better person. The more I practice genuine gratitude, the happier I become, which in turn contributes to my physical health as well as that of my relationships.”

This Thanksgiving season, Julie is most grateful for the people in her life: “My children, my family and my friends who provide unwavering love and support to me.” She continued, “I am so very grateful for my health and for having my cancer journey behind me.”

Julie is living life to the fullest and has a piece of advice for the rest of us. “Be mindful that each hurdle in life makes you a stronger and better person, friend, parent and colleague. Growing from life’s challenges is truly a gift to be treasured.”

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