Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because it’s one of the few that are about just bringing people together over a shared meal to simply express our gratitude for the many people and things that shape our lives.
As we head into what for most of us is our busiest season, it can be easy to let stress and anxiety consume us, but science tells us that by practicing simple exercises in gratitude we can alleviate some of the stress.
Psychology Today recently reported that gratitude can lower our levels of the stress-related hormone, cortisol, by around 23 percent. Gratitude has also shown a remarkable ability to reduce stress among caregivers, which includes professionals like us, trying to please and take care of people all day long. It can even significantly reduce anxiety about starting something new, like going into business for yourself. Brain scans have also shown that gratitude can change the brain and rewire it for happiness and success.
Keeping a gratitude journal is one way that helps me start every day on a good path, before I check emails, text messages, social media, or the news. I use an app called the 5-Minute Journal. It’s simple to use and it’s on my phone, the one thing that is with me for most of my day. I have struggled with anxiety most of my life, and it used to begin when I would wake up. My anxiety was so bad, I never used an alarm, because I would wake up in a panic about everything I had to get done that day, but having this journal to talk about the events of the day before going to sleep helps me release things, and having it when I wake up helps me see the world in a more positive light, rather than so much of the doom and gloom we are bombarded with today.
As a professional, I am grateful all of my friends that I have worked with over the years, for all of my clients who pay me to do creative things and share a conversation, for the beautiful spaces I’ve been able to work in, for all of the opportunities and doors that have opened because of it, for the energy it gives me (and sometimes takes), for the many invaluable lessons I have learned, acquired skills, knowledge, and life lessons in general.
What are you grateful for?