Check this out: The Blessings Count

With all go, go, go of the holidays, it’s good to be reminded to slow down and savor the season.

We love that Mercy Health System is giving people an opportunity to count their blessings — and to read the blessings that others have shared. You can add one, too! Just log on to www.OurBlessingsCount.com and type in your blessing — or add an image. To see other blessings, you just click on a falling snowflake and it pops up. How cool is that?

Counting your blessings is also great for your health. Just by thinking about what you’re grateful for, you might just reduce your stress and find some peace, said Dr. Doug Walker, psychologist, clinical director of Mercy Family Center in New Orleans and an expert in coping with stress.

“During the holidays, the noise level around us is at an all-time high,” said Dr. Walker. “There’s so much clutter and unrealistic expectations to cut through. With all the holiday hype, we’re under increasing pressure to buy expensive gifts for people who don’t need them and finish a to-do list a mile long. We burn ourselves out and are unable to experience the joy of the season.”

It’s no wonder, according to a study by the American Psychological Association, that 68 percent of us feel greater fatigue during the holidays, along with 61 percent who feel more stress.

But just by being still, taking some time and listing what we are thankful for, we can change the course.

“The very act of verbalizing, listing or journaling what you have to be thankful for reduces stress,” said Dr. Walker, who has helped survivors of Hurricane Katrina, Japan’s tsunami, Joplin’s tornado and others through some of their darkest days. “It stops us in our tracks. There’s almost something magical about listing what you have to be thankful for. It can turn things around very quickly because all of a sudden you are looking at all you have to be grateful for. It’s all about perspective.”

And perspective matters. That’s why this year Mercy is sending out a simple message: blessings count.

“I get an opportunity to be with patients every day, and you would think I’m the one who’s giving and giving. But the patient is giving a blessing back and allowing me the honor and privilege to minister to them at a critical time in their life,” said Pierce McIntyre, Mercy chaplain in Northwest Arkansas.

Sister of Mercy Mary Roch Rocklage couldn’t agree more. “Blessings are a two-way street. Both giver and receiver are blessed. That’s the way of a blessing. There’s no greater way to know peace and joy than sharing our blessings.”

To join Mercy this year in counting blessings, visit www.OurBlessingsCount.com and share your blessings online. Either way, be sure to spend a little time to count your blessings.

Mercy is the sixth largest Catholic health care system in the U.S. and serves more than 3 million people annually. Mercy includes 31 hospitals, 300 outpatient facilities, 38,000 co-workers and 1,700 integrated physicians in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. Mercy also has outreach ministries in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. For more about Mercy, visit www.mercy.net.

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