When you experience a series of terrible circumstances or unfortunate events it can be a challenge to find anything to be grateful. But studies show that when you practice gratitude exercises it can not only benefit your health, it can also reduce your stress.
In two longitudinal studies, researchers Alex M. Wood, John Maltby, Raphael Gillett, P. Alex Linley, and Stephen Joseph, examined the effect of gratitude and its correlation to stress and depression. Both studies showed that participants that expressed gratitude and gratefulness led to lower levels of stress and depression. In addition, they found that over time, gratitude leads to greater social support.
Begin Your Grateful Process Today
- Waking up. Open your eyes, take a deep breath. Be grateful for the new day you are able to experience. Be thankful for your body and the healing sleep you received.
- Bathroom mirror. Put a note on your bathroom mirror saying, “Thank you for my life.” Or put a famous quote about gratitude on your mirror, such as Oprah Winfrey’s quote about thankfulness: “Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.”
- Office note. Put a gratitude saying on your desk or on your wall. When you experience stress at work this note will remind you to return to your grateful center.
- Office meetings. Are you the boss or a leader at your job? Consider starting a new gratitude tradition. At weekly staff meetings begin by having everyone in the group say something that they are grateful for in their lives that week. It’s a great way to start off a meeting.
- Set your alarm. Set three alarms on your smartphone each day. When the alarm goes off, smile and say something you are grateful for.
- Meals. Be grateful for your food, the people, and work it took to bring it to your table.
- Share your gratitude with others. Tell others that you are grateful that you have them in your life. Tell them why you are grateful for the spiritual gifts they bring into your life.
- Gratitude journal. Keep a simple gratitude journal by your bed and before you go to sleep write three simple things you are grateful for that day of your life. Compile them and read all the notes at the end of each month. Do you notice any patterns?
- Bedtime. Before you drift off to sleep, close your eyes, take a deep breath and smile. Say to yourself, ”Thank you for this sacred day of my life. What a gift!”