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Monthly Mental Health Moment: November 2022

Attitude of Gratitude

Thanksgiving has come and gone. Many of us will have spent time with families. Others may have spent time with friends, who often become our second families. I know that others spent time on their own—catching up on sleep. At least that had been the plan for one resident.

Holidays can often come with expectations. If they don’t meet up to our hopes, they can feel disappointing. How do we adjust that mindset?

That is where an Attitude of Gratitude can come in.

Studies have shown that focusing on things that we are grateful for can help improve our mental health. Gratitude can come in big and small packages. Yes, we are grateful if we can get our whole family together for a holiday. Or maybe we are grateful if that family manages to navigate the day without an argument. Maybe we are just grateful that the turkey turned out okay. Maybe we are grateful that the weather was a little warmer. Or like my resident, maybe we are grateful that we didn’t need to set an alarm and could sleep as long as her body wanted.

Medicine is hard work.

Finding small things to be grateful for can remind us of the reasons we are at the hospital on long days or weekends. Perhaps a patient or family who appreciated our care. Someone who was ill and starts to heal. Maybe knowing that we are making a difference. I have recently had two family members in the hospital. I know that I am grateful for the care they received. I am grateful for the compassion that I witnessed. I am grateful that I was included in the conversations so that I knew what was going on.

I am grateful for the team in our Office and the care that they offer. I am grateful for the individuals who reach out to our Office. I know that it can be a hard thing to do—to admit that you might need someone to talk with, that you might need some help.

If you are finding it hard to discover things that you are grateful for in your life, then perhaps you need to reach out to us. Depression and burnout can lead to a negative lens that makes it hard to view the world in a positive light.

I challenge you to take a minute to consider what you are grateful for. It could be a cup of good coffee. Someone who wished you a good day. It could be a beautiful sunrise or sunset. The nuzzling of a loving dog.

Recognizing these moments connect us to life. We need to slow down for a moment and realize the beauty around us. We need to remind ourselves that simple acts of kindness can have a ripple effect.

Live life with gratitude and compassion.

And if those feelings are hard to find, reach out, we are here to help.

Martha Peaslee Levine, MD
Director of the Office for Professional Mental Health

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In This Month's Newsletter

Upcoming Events Expand answer

Beating the Holiday Blues
Dec. 20, 11:30 to 1, BMR Breezeway

PMH is closed Dec. 23 – Jan. 2, so put in prescription requests early.

Wellness Tips Expand answer

Greet each morning with a smile—it will start the day off better than with a frown
Remember to breathe
Attitudes are contagious
Treat others the way you want to be treated
Include what you love—a piece of chocolate, good coffee, a hug
Take a moment to stretch, send a meme, connect
Use your time wisely
Don’t beat up on yourself if you aren’t able to follow
Everyone has tough days, try again tomorrow

In the News Expand answer

Fekete, E.M., Deichert, N.T. A Brief Gratitude Writing Intervention Decreased Stress and Negative Affect During the COVID-19 Pandemic. J Happiness Stud 23, 2427–2448 (2022). Read online here

In times of uncertainty, gratitude writing can be healthier than expressive writing or no writing.

Guest Column for Greater Mental Health Expand answer

We would like to include other tips, stories, suggestions, or connections. Please, reach out if you would like to contribute. What helps with your self-care? How do you stay on an even keel? When you are stressed, what helps calm you down? Share your tips and tricks! Email:

Office for Professional Mental Health Contact Information Expand answer

Penn State College of Medicine
Office for Professional Mental Health
500 University Drive, Suite C1746
Hershey, PA 17033


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