A guide for practicing thankfulness amid uncertainty


Hello, I’d like to introduce myself.

My name is Kylie Browne and I joined the Going Rural Health Team as an Associate Lecturer Rural Placement Education in September 2020.

For many of us, 2020 saw much upheaval to our normal working practices and many students faced uncertainty with their studies. Personally, I started my new position entirely on-line, which had its own unique challenges.

One of the tools that I have developed and embraced in my professional and personal life which has helped enormously with my ability to maintain resilience, is practicing the art of thankfulness and gratitude.

Gratitude can be explained as embracing a posture of seeing, receiving, and celebrating the good things we have.

A fear of loss can contribute us not stepping fully into a feeling of gratitude. Fear can divert our attention from focusing on the good things in our lives, to picturing the loss of or the perceived threat to the good things in our lives.

As individuals, we either choose to be more present and grateful for the good things we have and do all we can to enjoy them fully, or we can allow fear to rob us from joy.

While fear of loss can keep us from gratitude, practicing and incorporating gratitude into our lives, can help us overcome that fear of loss.

I would like to acknowledge that all fears are valid feelings of the emotions that we are experiencing. Embracing thankfulness may not remove the threat, however, it gives us tools to equip us for the task before us.

5 gratitude practices that will help you step into joy:

1. Pause & do a self- vulnerability check

First identify what you are feeling as a ‘vulnerability’. It may be a fear of embarking on a new placement in a foreign setting (e.g. a high care area, your first patient assessment, etc). Then take a moment and pause, reflect on what you are thankful for in that particular situation. Try to name as many things as you can think of.

2. Complete an act of kindness

Often if we take the focus off our situation and focus on someone else, this will make their lives happier.   It also has the added bonus of as their faces light up with a smile, you’ll feel thankful and happier too.

3. Be thankful for the things you may take for granted.

The things are commonplace in our lives, can become things we take for granted. However, they may not be things everyone in the world has access to.

A small list of things I like to reflect upon and feel very thankful for having are:

  • My family
  • My beautiful kitty cat
  • My faith
  • My beautiful work colleagues
  • A lovely place to live
  • Being able to enjoy the small and free pleasures of life.
  • Access to the internet so that I can work and connect with people.

I have found that being grateful for things like these are especially helpful to have an overarching view and to put my own situation in perspective.

4. Thankfulness keeps us healthy

Developing a practice reflecting on what we’re thankful for can aid in reducing our stress levels.  Feelings of thankfulness have wonderful positive values in helping us manage our day and decrease the moments of feeling stress within our lives.

5. Start or end your day with thankfulness

Foster a routine that prioritizes thankfulness and turn it into a habit that solidifies a regular time in your day.

It may be as simple as finding something to be grateful for about yourself or circumstances over breakfast.  While you are waiting for the bus, why not take a moment to practice thankfulness?

I encourage you to make a small time commitment and incorporate one of these tips into your day, and see what impact it has on your life!

Kylie Browne

Associate Lecturer, Rural Placement Education

Registered Nurse & Nurse Educator