This is my last post of 2016 and I thought that I would match the theme to my life at this time. I feel an immense level of gratitude for many things in my life, most I have worked extremely hard for, through much adversity, and some that have just showed up in my life, like my wonderful husband and stepson <3. Just this little mind shift seems to make the stress in my life so much more manageable 🙂
Also, this year, this blog had over 5000 views from 94 countries! Wow! I feel so grateful for all the wonderful questions, kind words and clicks! I love sharing my experience and knowledge with others and especially love hearing the life stories of others. So, today’s post will be about how important gratitude is for your health, and most importantly, how it helps with building stress tolerance.
I hear you saying, “So what is this gratitude that you speak of?!?”
Gratitude is the appreciation of what is valuable and meaningful to oneself; it is a general state of thankfulness and/or appreciation. The majority of empirical studies indicate that there is an association between gratitude and a sense of overall well being. Source: Sansone & Sansone, 2010.
Once again, I will thread gratitude and stress though my 5 stress management components: Stress Knowledge, Self-Awareness, Receptive Mental State, Attitude and Coping Skills.
Stress 101: Stress Knowledge
Freaky word of the day…Psychoneuroimmunology!
It is the study of the interaction between psychological processes and the nervous and immune systems of the human body. Yes your brain is connected to the rest of your body 😉
There is some pretty cool research finding that grateful people tend to be more optimistic, a characteristic that researchers say boosts the immune system. In one, researchers compared the immune systems of healthy, first-year law students under stress (like all students!) found by midterm, optimistic students maintained higher numbers of the blood cells that protect the immune system, compared with their more pessimistic classmates. (Suzanne C. Segerstrom, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Kentucky, Lexington). Grateful people tend to be more optimistic because gratitude helps you to see your whole life picture, not just the negative stuff. It is so much easier to be optimistic if you know that good things can actually happen because they are happening in your life.
Get out there and boost your health with a dose of gratitude!
Do you tend to infuse gratitude practices into your daily life? The following questionnaire is an opportunity for you to explore your relationship with gratitude and gain a wee bit more self-awareness in an area that helps you to manage your stress better.
Get out your pencils!
|Directions: Using the scale below as a guide, write a number beside each statement to indicate how much you agree with it.|
____1. I have so much in life for which to be thankful.
____2. If I had to list everything that I felt grateful for, it would be a very long list.
____3. When I look at the world, I don’t see much for which to be grateful.*
____4. I am grateful to a wide variety of people.
____5. As I get older I find myself more able to appreciate the people, events, and situations that have been part of my life history.
____6. Long amounts of time can go by before I feel grateful to something or someone.*
*reverse scored items
Receptive Mental State
Let’s start with preparing your mind, putting it into a learning receptive state, for some gratitude easy gratitude strategies that you can squeeze into your daily life. Here is a great little meditation by the incredible Dr. Depak Chopra. He knows a bit about calming our minds in the pursuit of wellness 😉
Let’s now shift our state of mind and start creating an Attitude of Gratitude. Start doing things that shift your mindset. This is the one fundamental aspect of my approach to life that has guided me through every bump, barrier, setback, petty party, smack in the face, etc.
- Journaling about things for which to be grateful
- Thinking about someone for whom you are grateful
- Writing/sending a letter to someone for whom you are grateful
- Meditating on gratitude (present moment awareness)
- Undertaking the “Count Your Blessings” exercise (at the end of the week, writing down three things for which you were grateful)
- Practicing saying “thank you” in a sincere and meaningful way
- Writing thank you notes
- If religious, praying about your gratitude
All of these practices force you to activate different areas of your brain than you normally do.Don’t believe me? Well…quick test, tell me 10 negative things about your life? Now tell me 10 positive things about your life? Which one was faster?!?! I know, the negative because it is a well worn “path” in your brain. You need to start doing some of the easy things above to start wearing down that “brain grass” in a new direction. The positive 10 need to be just as fast 😉
Pull up a chair, start making plans to add healthy coping strategies to your life this coming year. Check out my Coping Strategies Handout that will get you started. I have provided the ideas, you need to provide the “get-up-and-go” attitude and start taking charge of your life. We don’t have to be a victim to stressful events 🙂
Thank you so much for taking time to stop by my blog for a peek this year!
I feel so grateful that I have had this opportunity to share my passion and the years of wisdom with some pretty amazing people!
Dr. Heather Drummond, EdD (Counselling Psychology)
eSuccess-Coach * Passionate Advocate for Student Success