November 22, 2023
Dear KLSD Community,
At a time when there is so much turmoil in the world, and as we continue to experience a mental health crisis among children and adolescents in our country, it feels more important than ever to be intentional about expressions of gratitude.
It is natural, appropriate, and important for children to feel sad at times in the face of difficult realities. We can’t always make their sadness go away, but we can balance it with joy and gratitude. We can help children develop the tools to notice those things for which they are grateful and then practice expressing gratitude in ways that support their mental health.
A recent study published in the International Journal of Depression and Anxiety, a meta-analysis of approximately 60 other studies on this topic, found “a robust connection between higher levels of gratitude and lower levels of depression.” A UCLA health website that summarizes the above referenced study suggests that a regular practice of gratitude can play a positive role in reducing depression, relieving anxiety, lessening stress, and improving sleep.
The site’s authors acknowledge that “many people think of gratitude as a trait. But if you practice it, focusing on the positive things in life can become a habit …” And they make the following suggestions for incorporating gratitude through the day:
- Writing it down: Take time either at night or in the morning to write down something that went well.
- Hitting pause: Many of us reflexively say “thanks” often. Next time you hear yourself say it, stop and pinpoint precisely what you are thankful for.
- Redirecting your thoughts: You may feel negative or frustrated during the day. When that happens, step back and shift your focus to a positive aspect of the situation.
- Sharing your gratitude: Send a quick note telling someone why you are thankful for them or encourage your family to share something they’re grateful for each night at dinner.
I remain ever grateful to my colleagues for their thoughtful dedication, to our community for your partnership in our educational mission, and to our students for their energy and spirit. I wish all our families and all my colleagues a happy and healthy Thanksgiving.
Superintendent of Schools