How to use gratitude to reduce stress

As the holiday stress is upon us, one good daily practice is to cultivate an attitude of gratitude to stay focused on the good parts of the holiday season!

Here are some great suggestions for developing a gratitude practice from my good friend, neuropsychologist Dr. Jennifer Medina, who specializes in mindfulness and cognitive assessment.

Gratitude Practice

Gratitude is a way to bring ourselves into the present moment and become aware of our surroundings. When we cultivate gratitude in our daily lives we increase our capacity to experience joy.

When life circumstances are challenging, it can be difficult to recognize the good things happening around us. These difficult experiences are there…. AND….we can choose to rejoice in the smallest gestures that brings a smile. It may be a flower blooming at your feet, the sound of a child’s laughter, feeling the fresh air on your skin, or a lovely card sent to you from a kind friend.

Take a moment and quiet your thoughts and change their focus to a small goodness. Take a breath and feel grateful for what is present. Light a candle, tell a friend, jot it down in your journal. Whatever way that works best for you, acknowledge and feel grateful for something pleasant that has occurred.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself:

·         What touched me today?

·         Who or what inspired me today?

·         What made me smile today?

·         What’s the best thing that happened today?

Here are some ways you can experience gratitude in your daily life:

·         Light a candle

·         If you have a daily ritual, like morning coffee, then add a gratitude practice

·         Joy jar – keep a jar or container in an obvious place in your home, with a little pad of paper next to it. Write down your gratitudes and place them in the joy jar and watch them accumulate!

·         Saying grace before meals

·         Gratitude journal

·         Writing thank you notes

·         Keep a bulletin board or white board in your home and have the header be: Today I am thankful for…

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