Reduce Stress With Gratitude
By Paul Rothbart
It's better to give than receive, the saying goes. Many people actually have difficulty receiving compliments or even gifts. This may seem like just a sign of being a kind person, but the inability to feel gratitude and receive can add excess stress to your life. Research conducted by Robert Emmons, PhD., a professor of psychology at the University of California at Davis, has found that gratitude is like a muscle and can be strengthened with use. Seeing life and the things that come to you as gifts can improve your relationships, your mood, and even your health. Finding ways to express gratitude daily will make it stronger and help bring about its benefits.
Keep a Gratitude Journal
Once each day, choose several things you are grateful for and write them down in a journal. First thing in the morning after waking up or just before going to sleep are good times to do this. You can express gratitude for anything, no matter how big or small. Something as simple as someone making you laugh or smile is a wonderful thing to be grateful for. It could even be something you did for another person that made you feel good. Writing these things down helps your mind to acknowledge and remember them. This is a great way to relieve stress and boost your mood.
Place Visual Cues
It's important to remember the gifts you receive. Placing reminders around your home and workspace is a good way to do this. They can be photographs of people and places that you are grateful for. Objects such as gifts or greeting cards are very effective. You can even write fond memories on sticky notes and stick them where you will see them frequently. By surrounding yourself with mementos of all you have received, they will stay fresh in your mind. This will keep you in a good mood and actually can help manage stress and boost overall health.
Tap Into Memories
Spend some time on a regular basis thinking about your happy memories. They can be in the distant or recent past. Recall them and how they made you feel. Acknowledge them as gifts and feel grateful. This is an excellent way to exercise your gratitude muscles and will also help manage stress. Memories have a very strong impact on the brain.
So often we have trouble recognizing and accepting the gifts that life brings us. Big or small, be grateful. Practice gratitude every day. It can reduce stress and aid your mental and physical health.
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