This year, more than ever, all of us have experienced stress coming from many different directions. Financial worries, social unrest, political upheaval, health concerns, isolation, and so much more. If you feel that you are having difficulty, you are not alone. Many of us need help managing stress, self-care, and staying positive.
Here are some tips based on practicing gratitude that can help you reduce stress and move forward. If you find that you need more help, the professional therapists on our team can be a great source of support.
How gratitude works to help you cope with anxiety
We face real-world challenges and real-world difficulties. Practicing gratitude doesn’t erase those issues, but it can stop negative thoughts from taking over your psyche. Gratitude reduces your stress levels, boosts your immune system, and helps you focus. When we practice gratitude we gain perspective, hopefulness, and resilience. As you acknowledge what is good in your life you will be better able to take care of your needs and achieve your goals.
Gratitude can’t be forced, but you can develop habits – practices – that promote feeling grateful.
Practical tips for practicing gratitude and building resilience
- Write it down. Start or end each day by writing down in a journal or in a letter what you are grateful for. Writing a feeling down makes the feeling more tangible, strengthens your brain’s gratitude circuitry, and stimulates the region of the brain that produces dopamine. As you practice journaling you can become more attentive to the details of your feelings. Your emotional resources respond to your attention by growing more powerful.
- Slow it down. Stress builds when we always feel rushed. Our lives are hectic! However, we have the choice to take our foot off the accelerator. Even taking a brief break has important benefits. Find time to take a walk, listen to relaxing music, or even just sit outside a bit.
- Give it back. You can make other people feel better! When we give of ourselves (think of smiling at a neighbor or thanking the clerk in the store) we don’t diminish ourselves. Giving makes us stronger. Giving doesn’t have to be grandiose or difficult. It can be as simple as calling a friend or relative who is lonely or isolated.
- Learned from previous challenges. We learn and grow even from adverse events. What did you learn from the worst experiences in your life? Being grateful for the strength you developed from past difficulties will make you stronger in the present.
- Go through the motions until you feel it inside. Often, genuine feelings develop from actions. You can develop a gratitude mindset by practicing saying thank you and making an effort to appreciate the good parts of your life. As you respond with a smile and thanks, you will gradually internalize gratitude. Your focus will shift away from what is difficult in your life. Expressing thanks and appreciation to your family and friends will rub off on them too, creating a virtuous cycle!
- Embrace change and welcome surprise. Like it or not, change is coming. When change does come, regardless of whether you would have chosen the change, look for the silver lining!
- Seek out and recall positive experiences. Think about times and events that made you happy. Recalling positive memories increases the brain’s production of serotonin – the natural feel-good chemical.
- Put your focus on future plans. Focusing on the future delivers a double benefit. We feel good right now, thinking about how good it will be to meet family or take a long-planned vacation. When the experience actually happens, we will feel more grateful after having anticipated the event.
Get personalized, targeted help for stress
We are all unique. Each of us faces different challenges, has our own experiences, and brings different resources to the table. In therapy, we will create a personalized plan that can effectively address your anxiety and help you manage stress.
Get help reaching your goals – build resilience
None of us want to admit that we struggle. Our friends and colleagues work hard to curate an image that all is good, even when they face difficulties managing stress, relationships, and other difficulties.
Reaching out for help is a sign of strength. Practical support can help you reach your goals. and build lifelong coping skills. To learn more, you are welcome to call and book your first appointment, or fill out the contact form and click Send. In therapy, you can find more resilience and strength than you imagined possible.