Thanksgiving and the importance of gratitude.


Thanksgiving. More than a day to watch parades, football or the dog show – though they are fun to do! More than a day to (perhaps) over indulge in delicious food and drink. Yes, even more than a day to (hopefully) enjoy the company of family and friends. Thanksgiving: this most American of holidays, was intended as a day of gathering and gratitude. Giving Thanks.
Did you know that the practice of giving thanks, having gratitude, can help relieve the stress in your life? It’s true.

I found this article at Life 123 -(Answers at the Speed of Life) by Rachel Mork, that sums up the practice quite well.

***We all experience some amount of stress in our daily lives. Even when it seems unbearable, there are many stress relievers we can use to try and alleviate some of the worry and anxiety we face. The practice of expressing gratitude is one of many stress management techniques that can diffuse negativity, replacing it with a sense of goodwill towards all, that many people find empowering.
Stress from the daily flux of good and bad in our lives can produce anxiety, tension, anger and pain in our lives. These negative emotions can lead to physical pain as tense muscles, higher blood pressure and unhealthy coping mechanisms combine to bring you down an undesirable path. One way to combat negativity and stress is to practice gratitude, focusing your mind and energy on the positive in your life.
The practice of expressing gratitude is simple. Many people choose to do this in a gratitude journal, but even making a list on a scrap piece of paper will do the trick. When you are distressed, simply find a quiet place and begin listing positive things for which you are truly grateful.  Some people jot down simple notes and stop at five positive things. Others list out every single positive blessing regardless of its magnitude, looking for the positive until they feel they have exhausted all possibilities.
After listing your blessings, you may wish to repeat the list out loud or to meditate on each positive item on your list, embracing the goodness of the blessing and releasing the negative in your life. You may want to share some of the positive things in your life with someone else. Verbalizing your gratitude can be very powerful. If you feel stirred to thank someone for these things, make a call or write an e-mail or letter to the person towards which you feel gratitude.
The benefits of expressing gratitude have even been documented in scientific studies. It appears that expressing gratitude works as a protective, healing, emotional energy force. In one study conducted by the Mississippi University for Women and UC Davis, patients who had received organ transplants were separated into two groups. One group took daily notes on treatments and progress. The second group took notes on treatments and progress and wrote down five things for which they were grateful each day.  The group that kept a gratitude journal reported higher mental well being scores at the end of the study.***

To take Rachel’s idea one step further: Perhaps rather than waiting until times of stress are upon you, to practice the routine of finding gratitude, instead of fault on a daily basis. First thing in the morning, before getting out of bed, and the last thing you do before drifting off to sleep can be a great way to start and end your day—and probably keep a fair amount of stress at bay.

Happy Thanksgiving from Therapeutic Bodyworks!  🙂

(See Medical Disclaimer Blog Post)