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Thank you to 7 Paisley Pumpkins Photography and the Paquin family: Sam, Kirsten, Linley and Quinn for sharing their beautiful smiles. The Paquins are from Mora.

At Welia Health, we’re feeling extremely grateful because of you, our patients, and our communities. Also, thank you for your patience and support over the past few months, as we rolled out our new name and logo. We know you’ve heard a lot from us lately and appreciate your listening—and we appreciate you.

Too often in today’s fast-paced world, we don’t slow down enough to say thank you. But we should. Besides being a nice thing to do, expressing gratitude has proven health perks, according to a vast body of research.

Seven ways gratitude benefits our health

  1. Boosts the brain: When we’re truly grateful, our brain rewards us with good feelings. These feelings of gratitude flood our brains with the feel-good chemical dopamine. Gratitude also activates the hypothalamus, the part of the brain that regulates our appetites, sleep, temperature, metabolism and growth. Research shows that these neurological effects contribute to other health benefits.
  2. Improves sleep: In the holiday classic White Christmas, Bing Crosby’s character Bob Wallace croons to Rosemary Clooney’s Betty Haynes that she should “count her blessings, instead of sheep.” Turns out Mr. Wallace was right. Research shows that when people express what they’re grateful for before bed, they’re more likely to fall asleep faster, have fewer disruptions to their sleep, and wake up feeling more refreshed.
  3. Eases depression: Reflecting on the good things that happen to you in a day can help increase happiness and ease depression. Multiple studies on the benefits of gratitude practices have shown that keeping a gratitude journal, or writing and sending thank you notes can increase our long-term happiness by more than 10%. Similarly, research shows that people who participate in the “three good things” exercise see notable improvements in depression and overall happiness.
  4. Enhances self-care: If you’re the type of person who expresses gratitude, it’s more likely that you’ll take better care of yourself. Research shows positive correlations between gratitude and good-for-you behaviors such as exercise, healthy eating, and going to the doctor.
  5. Improves relationships: Expressing gratitude can improve relationships, particularly romantic ones. There’s a good chance you don’t need research to tell you this one. But in case you’d like the science to back it up, see the 2010 article in Science Daily, It’s the little things: Everyday gratitude as a booster shot for romantic relationships. More generally, when you express gratitude, you can increase feelings of belonging and decrease feelings of loneliness or isolation.
  6. Reduces symptoms and pain: In a 2003 study, Counting Blessings vs. Burdens, patients with neuromuscular disease were made to write in a gratitude journal. Sixteen percent of subjects reported reduced symptoms, and 10% of subjects reported a decrease in pain. They were also more willing to exercise and were far more motivated in their recovery than the control group.
  7. Increases patience: Being grateful for little, everyday things can even make you more patient, according to research. Patience equips us to make sensible decisions and increase self-control—which might be helpful around the holiday dessert table! Given our gratitude to you, our waistlines might be helped!

Thank you for choosing Welia Health. We are grateful for you, our patients, and your continued support.


Originally, we were going to focus on technology habits and kids. But since most people—children and adults alike—struggle to shut off electronics, we’re broadening our scope. Technology permeates our society today, so there’s really no escaping its use. But most of us can better manage our technology habits.

Importance of limiting screen time

When you Google “limiting technology use,” nearly all of the top articles relate to kids and technology. But all of us can benefit from turning off screens. Here are some of the top reasons (modified from The Concerns About Kids and Screen Time):

Sleep: In today’s 24×7 society, we undervalue sleep. Some people even boast about how little sleep they get. But sleep is critical to our health. Good sleep is connected to physical health, emotional well-being, and longevity. On the flip side, chronic sleep deprivation can lead to troubling medical issues, from obesity and diabetes to heart disease and stroke.

Technology use can disrupt healthy sleep in two critical ways:

  1. Spending time online prevents us from going to bed at an appropriate hour; and
  2. Electronic stimulation interferes with both falling and staying asleep.

To reduce the effects of electronic stimulation on your brain, turn on your device’s blue-light filter. Research shows that the blue-wave frequency triggers wakefulness. (See Sleep Better by Using a Blue Light Filter on your Phone or Computer.)

  • Social interaction: When you’re using technology—whether it’s connecting on social media, playing a game, or watching TV—you’re often not truly engaging with other people. Screen time is not quality time. As humans, we are social beings. We need other people. When we spend too much time online, we spend too little time connecting with others in real time. Loneliness is becoming an epidemic in the United States, and it peaks in 20 and 50-somethings. New research shows that loneliness is connected to poor mental health, substance abuse, cognitive impairment, and worse physical health, such as malnutrition, high blood pressure, and disrupted sleep. (See The Link between Loneliness and Technology.)
  • Social awareness: To connect effectively with people, we need to be able to read their emotions and gauge our responses accordingly. Technology use can interfere with this process. So when we put our phones or tablets down, we’re better equipped for social awareness. For example, a University of California, Los Angeles study of sixth graders found that those who went five days without screen time were significantly better at reading human emotions than kids with regular access to technology.
  • Attention: Research shows a likely connection between excessive screen time and attention issues in both children and adults. For kids and young adults, too much time spent watching television and playing video games can double the risk of attention problems, according to a study from Iowa State University. Meanwhile, compulsively checking your phone or favorite websites often means that your attention is diverted away from the task at hand. Productivity can suffer, as can your work quality.
  • Physical activity: Sitting in front of a screen for hours on end means…you’re sitting for hours on end. It’s inactivity at its finest. The first line in this research study abstract captures it well: Obesity is one of the best-documented outcomes of screen media exposure.

Ways to reduce screen time

Scrolling through social media, binge-watching Netflix, and reading Welia Health blog posts are enjoyable online pursuits. But to improve your health and well-being, spending less time online is a worthy goal. Below are some suggestions:

  • Institute tech-free time: Identify blocks of time as tech-free time so you can connect with your family and friends. Perhaps it’s 6 – 8 p.m. on weekdays or Sunday mornings. Or create a no-tech-at-the-table rule. Instead, go on a bike ride, play a board game, walk the dog, cook together, do an art project, read a book or volunteer. Be consistent and clear about your personal and family rules.
  • Turn off tech an hour before bed: Aim to have everyone turn off technology an hour before bedtime. It’s not easy. Think of it as the modern-age “lights out.”
  • Keep screens out of the bedroom: Go old-school and get an alarm clock instead of using your phone. Have a charging station in the kitchen, so tablets and phones stay there at night. If you read on an electronic device at night, be sure to use that blue-light filter.
  • Set a timer or alarm: Before you start watching TV or scrolling social media, determine how much time you’d like to spend and then set a timer. It’s so easy to lose track of time when you’re online!
  • Be self-aware of your own screen time: When someone calls you out on your screen time, pause and reflect. Do you get defensive? Are you realistic about where you’re spending your time? Are you really reading the news or doing work, or are you watching cat memes? There are ways to find out how long you’re spending with certain apps. (See “How to See How Much Time is Spent in Apps on iPhone & iPad.”)
  • Watch your screen habits: Do you instinctively grab your phone right when you wake up? Do you check it right after dinner and then spend the next hour online instead of connecting with your kids or spouse? Do you tune into TV once the kids are in bed and then spend the next three hours binge-watching your favorite show? Examine your screen habits and determine where you might want to adjust how you spend your time to maximize your health and well-being. Be a good example for your children!

Navigating technology when it seems to overrun our lives is a challenge. But setting limits for yourself and the ones you love is essential to create healthy habits, meaningful relationships, and connected communities.

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