DeSales University has recently adopted the Core Values: gentleness, humility, gratitude, hospitality, and wisdom. The value that really speaks to me during the pandemic is gratitude, and I share here some of my reflections on this. The changes that have come to all our lives since March 2020 have been substantial. I have found myself praying more during this time, first because of a need to help my mind settle and then to ask for strength in my roles at home and at work. This quiet time for me each day has helped significantly. One of my favorite memories growing up was my Mom quoting Psalm 118:24, “This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.” This is gratitude! She would share this bible verse with me on days that were difficult and days that I needed to be reminded to be grateful. We all need to be grateful during this challenging time.
During the pandemic, routine things have changed significantly from our ability to go to the grocery store, visit with friends and family, as well as to spend time on the beautiful DeSales University campus. Additionally, the way we educate our students needed to change because of COVID-19 to include social distancing, masks, hand sanitizer, and less in-person student/faculty interaction. Meetings that routinely were in person now are on Zoom. We are all missing routine interactions including handshakes and hugs. We are missing seeing people smile without a mask. Those changes have been necessary to keep everyone safe, and they have. The Ready for Anything policies and practices in place on campus have kept us much safer than faculty and students at other colleges and universities. This faculty member is very thankful for this.
During this time in our lives, it is important to continue to practice gratitude. Practicing gratitude has been shown in the literature to increase happiness and reduce depression. Gratitude helps you hold on to positive things and helps you cope with stress. Gratitude will help you improve your mental and physical health. Gratitude will help you be more resilient and be less concerned with negative events and situations. Tell your friends, family, faculty, staff, and classmates that you are thankful for them. Write a letter to someone important to you and tell them so. Create a gratitude journal that you can reflect on daily. Look for the positive to reflect on during difficult situations.
Our experience with the pandemic has reminded all of us what has changed and what we are missing. Practicing gratitude will help you remember all the things you are thankful for that the pandemic has not compromised.
Kathleen Ehrhardt is the assistant program director in the physician assistant program.