Hello Beautiful People. We have officially entered the end of the year frenzy. With Thanksgiving next week, the sprint into the heart of the holiday season has already started. We can all feel a lot of stress, depression, and anxiety with a hearty serving guilt and judgment about our lack of gratitude and thankfulness. Below you can see actual footage of me rushing through rather than savoring the holiday season.
So if you are among these people sprinting and/or stressing, I have one encouragement to you. Research shows that attempting a gratitude practice is beneficial, even if you don’t feel authentically grateful in that moment. That’s not just pop-psychology. Yep, a gratitude practice without expectation of a certain result can bring just as much benefit as if we are just “grateful people” (who are these people anyway?).
I have spent a good amount of time researching gratitude practices and their benefits. And I have to say that it worked for me. When I began to regularly use the practices listed, I went from feeling trapped in anxiety and fear, to more calm and content. The most noteworthy benefit for me was witnessing myself feeling less reactive to stressors. Ok, without further ado…
7 ways to embody gratitude:
- Breathe. Check in with your breath. Can you notice it in your body? There are no right or wrong answers here. The answer might be, “No, I don’t feel anything.” Don’t worry, that’s normal.
- Smile. You don’t have to smile at someone. You could, but you don’t have to. Just allow yourself to smile a little bit while you sip on your coffee or tea, when you notice a decoration or a plant that you like. It could be the tiniest smile. Note how it feels. No need to judge. It might feel terrible that is still connecting with yourself. Great job! I hope this picture of my son, Tobias, helps as an example.
- Be present. Place your hand over your heart. See if you can feel your heartbeat. There is no gold star for achievement here. This is about slowing down and taking notice.
- Take a walk. Bring awareness to each of the five senses. Feel your feet on the ground. Smell and then taste the air. Exploring any one of the senses can fill us with gratitude.
- Child’s Pose. Take this posture either right before bed or first thing in the morning. Breathe, stretch your arms out long, and let the forehead rest on your mat or bed or floor. Roll the forehead right to left, giving it a little massage. This action tells the nervous system that all is ok.
- Set an intention/mantra/thought. When you start to feel less than grateful, you could come back to a simple thought or phrase to remind you of what you noted earlier when you were feeling more calm. It can be super simple: I am. Or a bit more detailed: I am grateful. I am grateful for my socks. (whatever works for you).
- Hug it out. Hug your friend. Spoon your partner. Snuggle with your pet. Heck, embrace yourself (research shows it works!). If you are wondering what I mean, wiki can help!
Let me know what you think of these ideas. And please tell me what works for you, especially if it’s not on this list.
Final thought: Save this page and use it on Black Friday. Don’t’ worry, I’ll send you a little reminder ;).
Be well, my friends.