Parent Alert November 2022

Parent Alert | November 2022

The Benefits of Being Grateful

John F. Kennedy once said, "As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them."  Gratitude is an important part of life, and a simple thank you goes further than you realize.  Multiple studies have shown that being grateful benefits you physically, mentally, emotionally, and socially.  These benefits include improved health, a positive outlook on life, higher chance of achieving personal goals, and greater satisfaction in personal relationships.  A study done in 2003 by researchers from University of California, Davis, and University of Miami found that the simple act of journaling things you are grateful for led to participants exercising more regularly and being more optimistic about the future (Emmons & McCullough, 2003).  Expressing gratitude improves your life and the lives of those around you, and there are many great ways to express it.

Saying thank you is the simplest and one of the most affective ways to express gratitude.  That simple phrase is a sign of respect to others, and shows that you are paying attention to the things they do.  Some other ways of expressing gratitude include keeping a gratitude journal to write about the positive things you experience, sending thank you cards, giving someone a 'thank you' gift, and starting a conversation with someone about how they are doing.  Try some of these ideas and see how your life improves, and how you impact the lives of those around you.

The holiday season is upon us which provides us plenty of opportunities to practice expressing gratitude with friends and family.  Here are a couple of fun activities that can be done with your loved ones that can help you make the most of this time of year.  A family service project brings the family closer together, and helps your community grow stronger.  Service projects can include outreach efforts to the homeless population by passing out blankets or serving dinner at a soup kitchen, visiting residents at a nursing home, or helping with community clean-up efforts.  Another fun idea is to exercise your creative muscles by doing a craft or writing a poem that focuses on what your family is grateful for.  Please visit the links below for other fun ideas, and to see more benefits of being grateful.
Sources and Links

Gratitude Works: Summary of Robert Emmons' Study
Greater Good Science Center: The Science of Gratitude
How to Express Gratitude to Others: 19 Examples and Ideas
10 Gratitude Activities to Do with Your Family This Thanksgiving


How to Talk About Substances

I think everyone has that one family member who enjoys breaking the conversation rules during holiday family events by bringing up politics and religion.  We all know that those topics are supposed to be avoided because of how quickly they can turn an innocent meal into a heated debate.  One of the topics that may come up during Thanksgiving dinner this year is the impact substances are having on our communities.  There are a variety of opinions that may come up during that conversation, and there will possibly be opinions and statements that are wrong.  Here are some things to keep in mind to help educate your loved ones and change the conversation about substance misuse from being harmful to being helpful.

The first thing to keep in mind when discussing substance misuse is to use person-first language.  For example, the proper term is 'substance misuse' instead of 'substance abuse'.  The reason this is important is because the term 'substance abuse' has a negative stigma that places blame on a person struggling with the disease of addiction.  Terms like addict, junkie, and drunk also fall into this category of improper terms because they also add to the stigma surrounding addiction.  Using person-first language helps to humanize people and separate them from their disease.  Proper terminology is an important part of the discussion surrounding substance misuse, but it is not the only part of the conversation that you should learn about.

Here are some examples of how to use person-first language

Stigmatizing Language Person First Language
Substance Abuse Substance Misuse
Addict Person with Substance Use Disorder
Junkie Person in active use
Alcoholic Person with Alcohol Use Disorder
Drunk Person who misuses alcohol
Habit Substance Use Disorder
Former Addict Person in recovery or long-term recovery
The other important thing to learn before discussing substances and substance misuse is how to recognize scare tactics messaging.  Scare tactics are strategies intended to manipulate public opinion about a particular issue by arousing fear or alarm.  Some examples include showing violent car crashes in an effort to combat texting and driving, and commercials showing images of people before and after misusing substances.  The easiest way to avoid falling into the trap of believing scare tactics messaging is to do some research and use critical thinking when you see something that bothers you.  News outlets and social media pages are trying to interact with as many people as possible, and one of the ways they do this is by crafting messages that will speak to our deepest fears and desires.  Facts are always better than hyperbole, and you can change the narrative about substances by doing good research.These two tips are just the start of how to help change the narrative surrounding substances and substance misuse.  The key to any conversation is to use the things we have all been taught since childhood.  Be polite, use a calm voice, and remember that not everyone knows the information you now know.  There are many difficult subjects that come up especially during the holiday season, and these tips can help you avoid arguments and set-up a meaningful discussion.

Sources and Links
Thank you for being a vital part of our community!