Surprise! Gratitude Is the Perfect Stress-Buster
By Sandy Schroeder
At this time of year, we may so stressed out it is hard to think straight, but as the holidays roll ahead we will probably remind our family to be grateful. Actually, as it turns out we should be the most thankful for the actual practicing of gratitude.
The Huffington Post has spotted something we may have missed. Practicing gratitude can be the ultimate stress-buster. If you doubt that, test the idea. Pause for a moment and count your blessings. Think about your family, home, pets and job. By the time you finish the list you may be smiling and feel a lot more relaxed.
How It Works
"Life is a series of problems that have to be solved and a lot of times those problems cause stress. Gratitude can be that stress buster," explained Robert Emmons, University of California psychology professor. Here's what happens.
Suddenly your perspective shifts - When you hand a gift to a sick child in the hospital or a lonely senior in the neighborhood, you may suddenly see how lucky you and your family really are. Everything looks a lot different and means more.
We see so much more - When my kids and I used to spend Saturdays visiting seniors, helping at the library, or working at the marine animal shelter, we always left happier and more relaxed than when we arrived. Little things really do mean a lot when you practice gratitude by helping people and creatures in need.
Here Are Some More Ways to Practice Gratitude
Spend more time with family - When busy schedules fail to connect we may need to make the effort to stay together. Leave work early or take a day off to go hiking, biking or camping with your family. At the end of the day just sit and talk, and really listen to know what's going on. You will feel less stressed, and so will they.
Remember to say you care - As you spend more time with friends and family, it's important to let them know how important they are, too. One couple solved this by posting a whiteboard behind the door in their bathroom. Each night they would write things that they appreciated about their spouse. They say they are a lot happier and a lot less stressed.
Take Care of Yourself - Sometimes we forget to be thankful for our own health, and let healthy routines slide. Make the effort to rest well, eat healthy and exercise every day. Your body will reward you with more energy and less stress.
Whatever you do to practice gratitude during the holidays, don't be surprised at the stress release, too.
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