An Extra Serving of Gratitude Can Help Keep Your Mind and Body Healthy

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This time of year can be filled with moments of high stress and quiet reflection. Amid the spirited family gatherings and hectic travel plans of the holidays, one man’s story reminds us of the healing powers of gratitude, even through a debilitating health crisis.

Aladin Abdelnaby was 54 years old when his arms and legs began feeling weak. Within two months, the father of three could barely lift himself out of his armchair. 

Aladin met with Vartan Tashjian, MD, at Kaiser Permanente Fontana (Calif.) Medical Center, who assessed his condition and recommended spinal fusion surgery, where bone is taken from the back and fused to the bone in the neck.

Though Aladin was nervous about undergoing major surgery, he was thankful for a solution. He was also comforted by the watchful eyes of his Kaiser Permanente care team, who stayed connected with him after the surgery, through follow-up appointments and through My Health Manager, which allows Kaiser Permanente members to communicate with their doctors via secure email.

Aladin and his family were deeply grateful to Dr. Tashjian and the entire care team for helping to get him back on his feet. This sense of gratitude likely played a role in Aladin’s journey back to health. 

According to Jennifer Whaley, MD, a psychiatrist with Kaiser Permanente in Georgia, feeling thankful has a direct impact on our overall health. “Because the body and mind are so fundamentally linked, being physically healthy positively affects emotional health, and vice versa,” she explained. “Expressing gratitude increases happiness, and happiness increases overall health.”

Now fully recovered, Aladin is happier and healthier. “I’m back to work full-time, and I’m not tired anymore,” Aladin explained. “I’m so happy with how it is now.”

To watch Aladin tell his story, visit Kaiser Permanente’s Care Stories blog at kp.org/carestories.

Launched in July 2011, Care Stories is a collection of first-person video narratives from Kaiser Permanente members talking about their own care in their own words, unscripted and uncompensated.