When we feel stressed or overwhelmed the last thing one might naturally feel is grateful. Why would we? But a mindset conditioned to gratitude lifts your mood, creates a more positive mindset, and in time changes how your brain is wired.
Gratitude practice goes far beyond the notion of a thank you. Practice is the operative word, because the more we do it the better we become at it. Research has shown that when we display gratitude both in others, and ourselves happy hormones such as dopamine and serotonin are triggered. It actually changes the neurochemistry in our body.
The exciting news is we don’t even have to be grateful about the really big things in our life to reap rewards to our wellbeing. In fact evidence has shown that calling to mind little things works just as well, or even better. What you focus your attention on grows. So if you focus on fearful thoughts then they’ll multiply. In contrast if you can think of just one small thing that went well in your day, these too can multiply. The more you look for gratitude, the more you will see it.
Here are some really simple strategies that boost gratitude by tapping into your happy neurotransmitters:
- Make a list of three things that went well in your day. These can be absolutely anything that comes to mind, whether that’s feeling less pain, sharing a cup of tea with a good friend, a good test result – micro moments of gratitude. Some days may be more challenging than others but with practice you will find it can be quite addictive. That’s because we’re tapping into endorphins as well which are the body’s natural pain-killing hormone (aka natural morphine). A great idea is to write them down in a journal so on days when you need a bit of a boost you can reflect on these
- 10 finger mindful appreciation practice. Each day using each finger on your two hands call to mind 10 things you’re grateful for. If you do this practice each day you may get a little repetition, but that’s ok. They really add up! 10 things a day, 70 things a week, 280 things a week etc.
- Incorporate expressions of gratitude into your daily routine; eg family dinner, new friends on the ward (share your gratitude with others)
- Find a gratitude mantra and repeat it regularly
- Write a handwritten note of thanks to someone. Research has shown you don’t even need to send it. Just going through the act has a positive effect on subjective wellbeing
- During a challenging situation, ask yourself, “What can I be grateful for in this situation? What can I be grateful for in this moment?”
In love and laughter,