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Gratitude Trees

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Gratitude Trees

Gratitude in Recovery

Science is increasingly demonstrating the importance of bringing gratitude into our day-to-day lives. By doing so, we can improve our well-being, relationships, and outlook on life. Gratitude can even lead to measurable medical benefits like lowering blood pressure, reducing both stress and depression, and strengthening immune systems.

For individuals with substance use disorders, focusing on gratitude can be positively life-changing. As we’ve discussed before, most individuals with a substance use disorder have significant histories of trauma. Correspondingly, one of the side effects of trauma can be heightened stress and cortisol levels. Having a sense of gratitude and a regular practice that incorporates being thankful can help to alleviate these issues.

Simple activities like keeping a gratitude journal or regularly discussing being thankful with friends and family can create a new and positive habit. We decided to do something similar in our programs during the holiday season since this time of year so often comes with stress and added pressures.

Cazenovia Manor's Gratitude Tree
Cazenovia Manor’s Gratitude Tree

The Trees & Contest

Last year, our wellness partners at Blue Cross Blue Shield of WNY and Walsh Duffield gave us the idea to hold a gratitude contest. More specifically, we held a contest that involved creating a holiday tree or something similar that could hold and display notes of gratitude. This year, Lawley Insurance helped out, too.

Each of our locations had a unique and creative take on the challenge. Some had three-dimensional trees while others took up whole walls with artwork. Somerset House actually expanded on the large mural they started with last year’s challenge. Across the agency, uplifting messages of gratitude were featured. These included things like “my dogs,” “the holidays,” “a wonderful boss and coworkers,” “my family,” and much more.

The Winners

Our Supportive Living office won the contest last year thanks to their innovative and intricate wreath. Now that Supportive Living shares office space with Housing, the two programs collaborated on an even larger expression of gratitude. Bonnie Goodrich, a Case Manager at Supportive Living, led the creation of an entire winter scene with a gratitude snowman that took up an entire office wall. It was selected as the winner by our Wellness Committee, and Supportive Living and Housing will receive a pizza party for staff in the new year as a prize.

Bonnie’s always emphasized creativity and collaboration in her work, and she brought these qualities to this fantastic project. Residents and staff responded very well to it, too, as the snowman had dozens of notes of gratitude.

Bonnie's winter wonderland
Bonnie’s winter wonderland

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