Brookhaven Retreat Teaches Gratitude During the Holidays

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Brookhaven Retreat, a unique residential treatment facility exclusively for women with mental health and substance abuse issues, teaches women the importance of gratitude for mental wellness this holiday season.

The holiday season is a busy time of giving and receiving, of recognizing and giving thanks for all that we have. This can be difficult for women with mental health issues who may be more concerned with thoughts of what they lack or what is going wrong rather than what they have and are thankful for. But gratitude is an important step for building and maintaining mental wellness. This holiday season, Brookhaven Retreat teaches women to be mindful of what they are thankful for in order to build a gratitude practice that fosters continued mental wellness.

Gratitude affects our physical, psychological and emotional health. Hofstra University research shows that feelings of gratitude boost optimism and satisfaction while reducing depression and physical pain. Berkeley researcher Rick Hansen, Ph.D., has shown that gratitude changes brain chemistry: gratitude practices strengthen existing synapses and build new ones, shaping the brain and making gratefulness and the positive feelings associated with it a way of life.

Positive emotions such as gratitude soothe anxiety. We cannot experience anxiety or depression and gratitude at the same time. Despite this, expressing gratitude can be difficult for women who are dealing with anxiety, depression or grief. But everyone reaps the benefits of gratitude regardless of circumstance.

Brookhaven Retreat encourages women to journal; gratitude diaries establish daily practice of gratefulness and encourage positive feelings. Women may also express gratefulness to those around them in the form of written kudos that are read aloud on Mondays.

Most importantly, women learn to be mindful of negative thoughts and learn various tools used to change these negative emotions into thoughts of gratitude and positivity that generate happiness.

The holidays are a perfect time of year to develop gratitude. Women can easily be mindful of the sights, sounds, tastes and company relating to the holidays and build gratefulness for those experiences that inspire happiness. With continued practice, this gratefulness can become a habit that makes life more fulfilling.

Gratefulness encourages feelings of worthiness and self-compassion in women with mental health issues. The more women practice gratitude and positivity, the more their brain patterns change and happiness becomes habit.

About Brookhaven Retreat
Brookhaven Retreat is a women's treatment center nestled on a naturally beautiful 48-acre site secluded in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. It has helped hundreds of women across the United States overcome depression, trauma, anxiety, substance use and a range of other behavioral health challenges. Brookhaven’s Founder, Jacqueline Dawes, has predicated its gender-specific treatment on “healing emotional breakage” for women. In this way, she has established a sanctuary and a place where women can feel safe, secure and cared for by a staff of highly trained professionals.

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Amy Massaglia
Brookhaven Retreat
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