Have you ever considered that increasing your gratitude could help with stress relief? Although it may initially seem like a far-fetched idea for some, doing so can make a substantial difference. After all, it isn’t only the life events we go through that cause us stress and anxiety. It also is how we view those challenges that determine how stressful they will be.
The good news is you can learn to grow gratitude and reap some significant mental health benefits in the process. Some people indeed are naturally better at being thankful than others. However, regularly practicing gratitude is more of a habit to develop than anything else. Everyone can improve their appreciation levels, experiencing anxiety and stress relief.
In her “Psychology Today” article entitled Gratitude Helps Minimize Feelings of Stress, Najma Khorrami M.P.H. shares the following:
“The ability to empower yourself through gratitude is a key to self-care, lifelong well-being, and satisfaction, and yes, less stress. Try and be sure to take full advantage of this practice while you can.”
What follows are some ways to improve your gratitude. No, it isn’t an instant stress and anxiety fix. Still, you can gradually strengthen your thankfulness over time and see significant reductions in your stress levels. Here’s how to take advantage of one of the best ways to relieve stress.
What is Gratitude? Learn What It Is and Isn’t
What is gratitude? That may sound like a simple question at first, but it’s vital to get a correct idea of what practicing gratitude looks like. After all, if you begin with faulty assumptions of being grateful and try to implement them, this could cause more stress rather than less.
Authentic gratefulness certainly isn’t something surfacy we throw around to look good or fit in at work or other social settings. It also has nothing to do with what our culture now calls “toxic positivity,” where we feel peer pressure to pretend like everything’s great when it may be anything but. Not properly dealing with life’s challenges would require denial of those hardships, which definitely isn’t healthy. At the same time, neither is constantly ruminating about your setbacks either. That’s a sure recipe for increased stress, anxiety, and depression.
Genuine gratitude isn’t a facade but something that increasingly happens inside you the more you practice it. Through repetitive reminders, you can change the way you view your life, yourself, and others around you. It’s something you come to believe deeply your heart rather than something you imagine to make yourself feel better.
By growing gratitude, you can also learn to silence the negative internal dialogue that quickly sabotages your wellbeing. After all, you’ll now have one of the best stress relief skills to replace that negativity with. And you always need to find a better substitute for a bad habit to find success.
Find a Way to Establish Repetition
If you genuinely desire to see reduced stress levels, one key will be finding a way to regularly remind yourself to be thankful. This could be a habit you develop every morning, night, or during some other time of the day. Eventually, if you stay consistent, you’ll find yourself feeling grateful more throughout your day without being so intentional.
And as this increasingly happens, you’ll discover that your stress response won’t be triggered so often. Your mind will get better at telling your body things are OK. Here are some ideas to help establish repetition to make showing gratitude more of a habit.
Thankfulness Journal: Sometimes, people feel overwhelmed when using their journals to improve their mental wellness. After all, how do you write in that thing every day with everything else you have to do? The pressure to write consistently leads some to give up and write nothing. Why not instead create a thankfulness journal and jot a few sentences down each day? Think of something new each day that you’re grateful for. This can be a paper journal or an electronic one in an app, depending on what works best for you.
Reminders: Write items on notes you’re thankful for and post them at different places you’ll be each day, whether that’s at home, your office, or in your car. You can change these from time to time to remind yourself of new things. The ones you takedown can be kept in one place so you can go through them periodically.
Acts of Kindness: We all have a need to give and receive kindness. You can allow your gratitude to fuel ideas to help others in need. This could be monetary but wouldn’t have to be. Many people go through life with few people to help them. You can find small or big ways to make a positive difference in others’ lives. It becomes easier to show gratitude when you become a source of thankfulness for others.
Prayer and Meditation: This can involve prayer to a higher power or meditation where thankfulness is incorporated if that is something you find meaningful. Even just a few minutes each day can make a big difference over time.
Remember You’re Still Limited (We All Are)
Once you successfully improve your gratitude, you’ll definitely see a decrease in your stress levels. This may make you feel like you can handle more stress than you previously did. And the truth is that you can.
Just be careful not to allow too much stress on your plate, thinking your improved mindset will balance everything out. It may or may not. Gratitude is a powerful stress-relief strategy, to be sure.
At the same time, it isn’t all-powerful. You’ll still want to establish a well-rounded strategy with various stress relief techniques. You’ll also still need to limit stressful situations when you can. We all have stress limits even with a healthy dose of gratitude in place, and that’s OK.
Is Finding Stress Relief Difficult for You Lately? Anxiety Counseling Can Help
Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you still feel overwhelmed with anxiety and stress. Although times like this can feel very isolating and lonely, you don’t have to stay there. The OC Relationship Center can provide stress and anxiety relief for you during those challenging moments.
If you’d like to find out more about how we can assist you, please get in touch. You can also schedule an appointment with us.