Practicing Gratitude

Through all the loss that people have experienced recently (loved ones, jobs, money, etc.), at some point, if not frequently, you stop to think about what you're grateful for. Your mind wants to shift gears from being trapped in  the negativity, reaching for something more. 

I've talked in the past about one coping skill in my toolbox is practicing gratitude. Gratitude is a reflection on what you are thankful for, what you can and should appreciate, a moment for you to stop and be in the moment with your thoughts.

Practicing gratitude might look different for you than me, and that's ok. This is how I do it. Every morning, right after I wake up, I write down in my journal 5 things I'm grateful for. I then envision me practicing that gratitude by either thanking someone if that is what I am grateful for or giving back to what I am thankful for. Lastly, I carry out that act sometime that day or week. 

Notice that it's not just about writing it down but actually practicing it. That is where change for you begins.

Now, you might ask yourself, "Well, what are some things I should write down?" Let me share some things that are in my journal.

1) I'm thankful for my career opportunities; more specifically, the people I get to interact with and hopefully give them a nugget of hope or an answer to their mental anguish each day.

2) I'm thankful for my health. There are many who have contracted COVID and have had terrible endings. My symptoms were mild, and I recovered quickly. Therefore, each day I keep my health vibrant by working out, eating right, using my essential oils, completing brain health exercises, practicing gratitude, and using coping skills to maintain my mental health.

3) Coffee. I LOVE COFFEE. My one cup a day - yup, I'm thankful for it. It is not so much about the caffeine but more so the taste, the reminder that I get to get up this morning, I get to have another day. It sets my mind right for the day. 

And so on.

Since I've implemented this simple 5-minute practice in my life, it has allowed me to "stop and smell the roses" more than before. I seem to have a more positive outlook, an improved mood and increased self-esteem. I appreciate more people, places, and things and am less selfish than before. All things we, at some level, would want. 

I challenge you to practice it for 1 week. Schedule it in your day. When would you do it? Right when you get up? When you get in your car, before you leave for the day? Before the kids wake up? Before bedtime? Schedule it, so it happens. Otherwise you may have the intention to do it, but life gets in the way. See if you feel any different after 1 week. 

This could be a coping skill in your toolbox that changes your life.

                                                                                                     -- Dr. Jennifer Stelter


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