As Thanksgiving rolls into the month, it’s the season we are reminded about being thankful, celebrating with loved ones, enjoying good food and possibly even reconnecting with ourselves a little and having some time for relaxation and restoration.
There are times when this isn’t so easy.
Perhaps family dynamics have changed, finances are strained, health has deteriorated, or some other stressor impacts our ability to find the good and celebrate it.
If you’re finding yourself struggling, reach out. There are so many resources in our community to support you! You just might need a little direction.
Sometimes though, just a little reminder and a new habit, done consistently, can shift your emotional state dramatically. Practising gratitude is one of those things.
The health benefits of gratitude are an amazing example of just how connected the mind and the body are. Research shows the feelings associated with gratitude, appreciation, love and caring enhance health.
When you find one thing to be thankful for and hold that feeling for as little as 15-20 seconds, many subtle but powerful physiological changes take place inside you.
- Levels of the stress hormones cortisol and adrenalin decrease, supporting many organ systems and boosting your immune system
- Coronary arteries relax, increasing the blood supply to your heart. Heart rhythms become more harmonious, affecting other organs and lifting your mood
- Breathing becomes deeper, increasing the oxygen level of your tissues
Studies have shown that people who regularly practice gratitude report higher levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, attentiveness and energy when compared to those who do not.
If you focus on what you don’t have, that’s all you will see. Focusing your thoughts on victories instead of defeats will help you develop an attitude of gratitude, and a greater sense of self-worth.
Try listing a few things with your family around the dinner table, when you’re stopped at a traffic light, before you close your eyes at night.
You can journal, you can meditate on gratitude, you can share with friends, whatever works for you but my advice is always to just keep it simple and find something that works FOR YOU.
What’s more important is the effort to do it, not the how.
Making simple acts of gratitude part of your everyday life might surprise you with the shifts you feel in your mental state and how much better you will feel, and it doesn’t have to be a complicated procedure!
How can you just get started? Right now…just take a breath, and list 5 things you’re grateful for.
It can be as easy as that.