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Practicing Gratitude
Mental Health

Practicing Gratitude

By Susan Erdman, LCSW, CEAP, EAP Counselor
Posted: October 30, 2020

Welcome to November. Every November we look forward to the wonderful American Thanksgiving holiday and this year we are also celebrating American democracy because November 3 is Election Day.

Every day can be a day of Thanksgiving, but especially now during the time of the pandemic we can be more focused on all the ways we are grateful.

Have you ever thought about all the people who help keep our lives on track? There is a backstory to everything we experience. If you are planning to have a special meal this year at Thanksgiving, this may be an appropriate moment to consider all the farmers, the grocery store workers, truck drivers and cooks who make this wonderful feast possible.

During this time of living through a pandemic, we are all more aware of how we are connected with each other and how we need each other.

Thank you for all the first responders during this difficult time. Thank you for nurses, doctors, medical staff, and now especially for teachers, principals, school staff and parents teaching from home. Thanks to all of you who have voted to continue this wonderful democracy. Thank you for all the ways we may disagree but can unite for the good of our country. Thank you for politicians, government workers, utility workers, post office workers — and all the people who work at the voting polls.

Thank you for our employers, colleagues, patients/customers/clients who are the reason for what we do. Thank you, of course, for our family members, our friends and the creative ways we are able to stay in touch via Zoom meetings, FaceTime, email and even snail mail! Thank you for our telephones and computers, even when we need to reboot or try again. Thank you for wearing your mask and social distancing.

Thank you for the beauty of fall and the lessons we learn about letting go. Do you remember when we were all worried about running out of toilet paper and hand sanitizer? That now seems so March 2020.

Thank you for creative ways to celebrate with graduation and retirement parades, supporting restaurants that have enlarged their outdoor settings, houses of worship that have found ways to celebrate with marked off pews or outdoor seating. Thank all of you for your prayers for all of us!

Thanks to each of you for learning ways to simplify in this new abnormal time. All the energy we put into our jobs, responsibilities, Zoom calls and webinars has helped us all expand and rethink our capabilities.


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As an important reminder to thank yourselves for all you do, I want to emphasize remembering to balance care for others with our self-care and self-compassion. Dr. Dandridge Wilborn, manager of Adult Spiritual Care Mission Integration Division at Methodist University Hospital, shared an article from the Harvard Medical School magazine “the Heartbeat” referencing four ways we can give ourselves self-compassion.

1. Comfort your body. Eat something healthy. Lie down and rest. Massage your neck, feet or hands. Take a walk. Anything you can do to improve how you feel physically gives you a dose of self-compassion.

2. Write a letter to yourself. Think of a situation that caused you to feel pain.  Write a letter to yourself describing the situation, but without blaming anyone - including yourself. Use this exercise to nurture your feelings

3. Encourage yourself. Think of what you would say to a good friend if he or she was facing a difficult or stressful situation. Then, when you find yourself in this kind of situation, direct these compassionate responses towards yourself.

4. Practice mindfulness. Even a quick exercise, such as meditating for a few minutes, can be a great way to nurture and accept ourselves while we are in pain.

If you need help to find ways to reboot your energy or improve your self-compassion, please contact Methodist Healthcare Employee Assistance Program at 901-683-5658 to schedule a free confidential appointment. Thank you for ALL you do and ALL you are.

At this time, EAP is only offering telehealth visits.

Susan Erdman

Susan Erdman, LCSW, CEAP


Susan Erdman has a master's degree in pastoral studies from Loyola University in New Orleans and a master’s degree in social work from the University of Tennessee in Memphis. She has worked as an EAP counselor since the 1990s. Before her work in the EAP, she was a mental health specialist at Methodist University Hospital in the eating disorder and dual diagnosis programs. Previously, she worked as a Catholic sister in a retreat center and as a personnel manager in a department store in Honolulu, Hawaii. She is an avid reader and yoga and fitness fan, and she loves to travel in the Mid-South and beyond.

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