Refresh with Gratitude

March 20, 2023

Sara Huffman

When you think of gratitude, the image of a nice family reunion and dinner might pop into your head. While it is most often associated with Thanksgiving (hence the name, “thanks-giving”), gratitude can be practiced throughout the year. As the semester begins to wrap up and come to a close, it’s almost way too easy to shift your focus away from yourself and to approaching finals and deadlines. During the next few weeks, we encourage you to practice gratitude, as it can help reduce stress and help prevent burnout.  

Instead of time being spent on yourself, you may be inclined to spend time preparing for the end of the semester, which may lead to feeling burnt out. Symptoms of burnout include feeling exhausted, reduced sleep quality, and feeling less motivated to spend time on academics or even to do the things you love. Unfortunately, one of the easiest times to feel this way is during the approaching finals.  

During this season, the practice of gratitude can help prevent burnout and actually help manage your emotions. Studies have shown that practicing gratitude increases dopamine and serotonin levels, which is responsible for happiness. By enhancing your mood, it can help get you out of that end of semester rut.  

In addition, gratitude also improves sleep quality. Research shows that by engaging in gratitude prior to sleeping will improve the quality and duration. This is because grateful people are less likely to think negative thoughts, as they actually hinder good quality sleep. Being well rested and getting enough sleep will help you avoid burnout, and will help you in the next few weeks leading to finals. 

What’s nice about gratitude is that it doesn’t require a lot of resources to put into practice. Depending on how you choose to express it, all you need is a few quiet moments of reflection time. To start off, I encourage you to think of three good things that happened during the day prior to going to bed. They can be as little or as big as you want, just as long as you think of positive events that you experience. 

Additional ways to practice gratitude include keeping a journal with things you are thankful for, sharing kind words with a friend or family member, taking note of the little details in life as they happen, or even just choosing to think on the positive side of things. By partaking in gratitude exercises, no matter how small or big they are, will help you boost your mood and help you feel less exhausted. What a perfect way to go into the end of the semester to finish the year out strong!  


Sara Huffman is a sophomore studying Industrial Engineering within the College of Engineering. Her hobbies include bouldering, crafting, and hanging out with friends, as well as enjoying the little things in life. 


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