Why Practice Gratitude?

As Westerners, we are taught at an early age to think things through. This helps us develop our cognitive reasoning abilities. However, often people can get stuck in “their heads” and overthink. When we are stressed or anxious, we tend to worry and ruminate on the problem. 

Stop Over-thinking, Worrying and Ruminating
Worrying, over-thinking and ruminating are unhealthy ways of handling life stressors. For example, If I wasn’t offered the job I interviewed for, I may feel disappointed. Feeling disappointment is a normal feeling. It will eventually pass. However, if I go on to think that the reason I did not get the job was that I did a lousy job answering the questions and I wasn’t dressed appropriately. I’m too nervous and inadequate, so I probably won’t get any job. It’s my fault, I’m flawed, everyone else is better than me and they are successful in job interviews. I am now ruminating. I have taken this way too far and now feel self-loathing and shame. All of which are unnecessary and unhelpful. 

Focusing on gratitude is a sure way of getting out of your head and into your heart. It will help you switch gears very quickly. Do you know that a baby’s heart first forms, them the brain? The heart is an intelligence system, similar to the brain and gut. 

Tools to Cultivate Gratitude:

Five things you are grateful for Morning and Night
Research supports the benefits of focusing on gratitude. It can help lessen perfectionism, anxiety, and depression. If you were to think or write down 5 things you are grateful for first thing in the morning and before sleep. You will be training your brain to focus on what is right in your world, as opposed to focusing on negative thoughts and stress. According to neuroplasticity, we are all capable of changing thoughts and hence our behavior at any age. Fortunately, we can change our mindsets and rewire our brains.

Gratitude using each letter of the Alphabet 
When you find yourself in the midst of a craving, whether it’s for alcohol, drugs or food, etc. focusing on gratitude may help you. With each letter of the alphabet think of something you are grateful for. For example, “A” is for Aunt, I am grateful for my Aunt Patsy in my life for showing me kindness. “B” is for Babies, I am grateful for the miracle of a newborn. “C” is for Cats, I am grateful for cats, I especially love kittens, etc. Continue to think of things you are grateful for, no matter how small, until you have gotten to “Z”. This technique can also be helpful if you have difficulty sleeping. Most people find they seldom get to the end of the alphabet.  This technique engages your brain and heart, which helps to distract you from the source of your struggle. Positive feelings emerge when we are in gratitude. This decreases stress, lowers blood pressure and cortisol levels. All of which are beneficial to the body, mind, and spirit.

During this Thanksgiving Season, decide to cultivate more thoughts and feelings of thankfulness and gratitude. 

Isobel McGrath, LLC
Isobel McGrath is an International Counselor, Life Coach, and Certified Hypnotherapist. If you are stressed, ruminating, not sleeping well, or over-indulging, I can provide you with the support, encouragement, accountability, and tools to get your life back on track. Allow me to develop a personalized program to help you get the results you want as quickly as possible. For more information, please visit Mindful-Options.com and IsobelMcGrath.com.