Feeling extra stressed this time of year? Press pause and practice a little gratitude. Studies have shown that gratitude can help improve your mood and create more positive feelings. The “feel-good” hormones like dopamine and serotonin are often released when we practice gracious thoughts and actions. This can help cultivate happier moods and a better headspace for managing stress (Positive Psychology). Giving thanks comes in many forms. Use the tips below to learn how you can be grateful every day.

Count Your Blessings

Taking time to count your blessings can cultivate a thankful mood in a hurry. In a moment of frustration, stop and think about 3-5 things that you are grateful about. For example, when traffic is stressing you out, pause and think about the blessings of transportation, the weather, or even a favorite song on the radio. Incorporating a weekly time to reflect on things, people, and situations you’re thankful for can be a great way to stave off negative thoughts and feelings. Try to be as specific as possible when listing your blessings and notice what kind of impact they have on your thoughts, feelings, and overall mood.

Be Cautious of Comparison

As easy as gratitude can increase optimism, too much comparison can quickly amplify negative emotions. With modern social media, it’s natural to compare our lives with others around us. These comparisons can leave us feeling more stressed and frustrated. We quickly forget the things we’re thankful for. If you find yourself stuck in a cycle of comparison, choose to take action and stop the cycle. Limit social media time, avoid certain apps and then take a moment to remember that what is posted on social media is only a snapshot into someone else’s life. Focus on finding inspiration rather than comparison.

Put it into Practice

Gratitude doesn’t always come naturally, so it is important to practice it daily. Take a moment to journal about your thankful thoughts and feelings. Reflect on what being more grateful has taught you in different situations. Writing down happy moments will even give you something to look back on for future gratitude practice. Pause and ask yourself a few questions such as, “What do I see or hear around me that I am thankful for?” or “What have I recently taken for granted?” Your answers to these questions can prompt even more gratitude. Finally, think about someone you could thank. Is there a co-worker you appreciate, a family member who recently helped you, or maybe a friend who said a kind word when you needed it the most? Write a note, send a text, or make a phone call to say thank you.

Regardless of how you choose to practice gratitude, try to show your thankfulness each day. Take note of how these gracious feelings can melt your stressful blues away.

Continue reading November 2021 Newsletter: Exercise for Disease Management