Research has established that by practicing gratitude we can handle stress better. By acknowledging and appreciating the good things in life, we can rewire the brain to deal with the present circumstances with more awareness and a broader perspective.
Modern research shows that gratitude is one of the 6 components of emotional resilience. Gratitude builds emotional resilience by:
- Building our awareness of the positive things in life
- Getting us out of negative rumination and replacing pessimistic thoughts with optimistic ones
- Helping us to accept the present situation
- Focusing on solutions
- Maintaining health by regulating metabolic functioning and controlling hormonal imbalances
- Sustaining relationships and appreciating people who are there for us.
A study on gratitude and appreciation found that participants who felt grateful showed a significant reduction in the level of cortisol, the stress hormone. They had better cardiac functioning and were more resilient to emotional setbacks and negative experiences.
Here are some ideas for building more gratitude into your life:
- Keep a gratitude list -Whether in a separate notebook or journal, a space in your planner, a note in your phone or a running document, set a time every day to note the things you are grateful for that day. There is power in words, so don’t overlook the small things, no matter how unimportant they may seem.
- Gratitude notes – Start writing thank you notes to the people who make a difference in your life. Handwritten notes are best, but texts or emails work, too!
- Appreciate yourself – Look yourself in the eye in a mirror and say five good things to yourself. Compliment your talents, your growth, your past achievements or your present efforts.
- Find a buddy – Find a gratitude buddy and schedule a few minutes every day to share what you’re each grateful for.
- Keep a gratitude jar – Put a pen and some small pieces of paper by a jar in a place you’ll see often. Every time you notice something to be grateful for, write it down and put it in the jar.
Whatever approach you choose, commit to making it a regular practice and building the habit of gratitude.