Gratitude at Christmas comes with year-round benefits

    By showing a small amount of gratitude at Christmas, stress hormones can be reduced for the entire year.<p>{/p}

    In less than two weeks, millions of people around the world will open Christmas presents.

    By showing a small amount of gratitude for those gifts, stress hormones can be reduced for the entire year.

    Dr. Laurel Kramer is a licensed psychologist at SSM Health St. Mary's. She said a simple thank you goes a long way.

    "We know that one of the things that helps people live longer and decreases stress, is to reach out to others for social support," Dr. Kramer said.

    And that social support means compassion, which should be taught at a young age.

    "Gratitude is one of those behaviors that we need to teach our children. It actually has physical and mental health benefits," she said.

    We can show our gratitude in many ways, "In our technology-driven world, people are starting to look for other ways to connect, so a thank you card is easy. It can be short, it doesn't have to have a lot of words, but just taking a moment to think of somebody else can be really helpful," she added.

    There's no need for any financial burden when it comes to saying thank you, "With a thank you card, you can make one. "Just being with somebody and saying 'I'm so grateful for you, I'm so glad you're here' is another very simple way to show gratitude and connects you with that person," Dr. Kramer said.

    As we look forward to the new year, Dr. Kramer said being more thankful should be on the top of our New Year's Resolution list, "Make a point every day to just stop for a moment and think about what do I appreciate about my life today."

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