Gratitude: The Stress Buster
Since diving further into my tarot study I’ve been reading more and more about gratitude and the effects that it can have on our lives. It can all sound a bit overwhelming and maybe slightly woo woo but my intention is to give you simple ways to practise gratitude so you can see the effects for yourself.
Practising gratitude doesn’t have to be something that takes up hours a day and it also doesn’t have to be about the big things in life. We can all find something to be grateful for and it can be as simple as being able to smell a flower or maybe it’s seeing your child discover something new, or perhaps it’s simply having a roof over your head.
As well as taking you to a positive and non reactive place, gratitude has been proven to reduce stress, help you sleep better and make you physically healthier.
Ideally you would weave a gratitude practice into your daily life but it can be as simple as 5 minutes a day. I would love you to take this challenge and let me know what changes you notice in your life.
Here are 10 simple ideas on how you could practice gratitude on a daily basis:
It’s quite easy to get overwhelmed when asked to do a meditation but all I’m asking you to do is add 5-10 minutes to your morning routine. I want you to find a quiet place to sit or lie. It’s best that you get out of bed so you don’t run the risk of falling back to sleep.
Take a few deep breaths through your nose and fill your belly with air. Don’t force anything but be aware of the air moving through your nose and feel your belly rise and fall with the motion. This should feel free and easy. Just take your attention to the breath for a few breaths to help you settle. Make sure that you feel the connection with the floor – this could be your sit bones or your back and legs if you are lying down.
I want you to think of 3 experiences in life that you are grateful for. Start with the first and really start to put yourself in that situation. Maybe it was a special event, your child’s first steps or it could even be the most amazing meal that you have ever tasted. Take yourself to that situation, put yourself front and centre and start to notice how it feels. Allow yourself to feel the emotions again and acknowledge it affected each of the senses.
Do this for each of the 3 experiences. When you feel ready just come back to your breathing then again feel your connection to the earth. Blink your eyes open and you will be ready to take on the day coming from a more positive and compassionate place.
Did you know that I have a candle range that can help you with meditation? I would recommend The Sun, Wheel of Fortune or The High Priestess for this. Check them out here.
Journaling can be incredibly powerful for many different aspects of your life and gratitude is no different. You can keep a written journal or maybe you prefer to save this on your phone or computer. There really is no right or wrong way.
At the end of each day just take a minute to reflect on what’s happened in that day. Even if you have had the worst of days you will always be able to find something to be grateful for.
I want to emphasise that these do not have to be huge, life changing moments. It could be as simple as being grateful that the forecast was rain but it turned to a lovely sunny day or perhaps your bus turned up on time!
If you start to notice the little things you will find that this starts to snowball and there is more and more to be grateful for on a daily basis. Don’t just restrict it to one thing. Write as many things as you want but be sure to write at least on.
Share The Love
Think about your family, friends and loved ones. This can be done during a mediation but can also be done when you are out for a walk.
Start to think of your network almost on a target with you right in the middle. Your nearest and dearest are on the closest ring to you then it starts to spread out through the target.
Imagine that you are a being filled with light and love. Start to visualise that light radiating from you and reaching the very outside of the circle. This light should not only touch, but fill every person in the circle and it should bring warmth, healing and love to them.
When you have done this just know that even by thinking of these people you are already practising gratitude and not only improving your own life but the energy that you are radiating will also improve those around you.
Turn A Negative Into A Positive
This is a great exercise. When you find yourself in a situation that is stressful or maybe your expectations haven’t been met, just take a moment to look for the positive in the situation.
Maybe your best friend got sick and couldn’t make it do your birthday party. Sucks…right? Well, perhaps having one less person there means that you got to focus your attention on those that you wouldn’t usually talk to. Maybe you didn’t do as well in your exams as you hoped. Look for the lesson in this and think what change you are going to make to ensure that it makes you stronger next time you face a similar challenge.
Keep looking for that silver lining and eventually you will find that there are fewer and fewer clouds in the sky.
You can do this at any time of the day. You don’t have to go into a deep meditation but it would help if you are somewhere quiet. I like to do this when I first wake up in the morning there is no right or wrong time.
Just take some time to focus your attention on each part of your body. Start at your head and work your way through. Ask yourself how it feels today and notice any subtle nuances between left and right side.
Imagine a light working its way through each part of your body. Mentally take note of any places that feel ‘off’. It won’t necessarily be pain but just accept what comes up.
When you have finished the scan, express gratitude for all the parts of your body that are healthy and fully functioning. Just take another minute or 2 to find the parts that were feeling off. Imagine that light shining on them and bringing healing energy.
This is just a way of your getting more in tune with your body but it is important to be grateful for what’s working well before you start to address what is not.
This could be a whole blog series on its own but I wanted to touch on it as part of your gratitude practice.
Take some time out to think what you really want from life. This could be a short term goal or a long term goal. When coming at goals from a place of gratitude it’s not about focussing on what you don’t have but more about thinking of how you can build on what you already have.
Maybe you want to be an Olympic gold medallist! Don’t think about the gap between where you are now and where that is. Start to think about where you are now and be grateful for the achievements that you have had. Break it down and think what you need to do to build on your existing talents.
Perhaps you want to live mortgage free. This could feel like an absolute pipe-dream but you should appreciate that you have a roof over your head, think about what a great achievement that is then start to figure out what steps you need to take to get you there.
Even though you are taking things step by step you should focus on the end goal, as long as you don’t get overwhelmed.
Fake It Till You Make It
This one is really simple. Just put a smile on your face. There is chemical reaction that happens in our body when we smile. Even in your toughest time try to find the light and even if you don’t feel like smiling the physical act of turning up the corners of your mouth will make you feel better!
It sounds crazy but this works! I always do this in yoga if I’m in a particularly challenging pose. Life is so much better with a smile on your dial!
Social Media Challenge
This is another very easy one for you and quite similar to journaling. I challenge you to write a status update once a day for something you are grateful for. Try this for 30 days. You will find it interesting who comments and interacts with you.
Just write a simple statement along the lines of:
“Today I’m grateful that I was able to talk to my mother on the other side of the world”
“Today I’m thankful for the laughs that I had with my colleagues”
Spreading this positivity will not only help you, but it will help all of us!
Give Thanks Where It’s Not Expected
This is a great one and you will be amazed at the change you can bring.
Be sure to say thanks for the little things. Your barista could be serving hundreds of coffees a day but probably gets very little thanks. Go above and beyond and tell them how much you appreciate the effort they put in. This could be somebody in the service industry or maybe it’s even your partner who wouldn’t expect thanks for their day to day tasks.
Another way of doing this is writing a note to somebody from your past and letting them know what a positive impact they had on your life. Maybe a teacher or an old family friend.
My day job is HR and recruitment. When I get a thank you from somebody it does have a massive impact on my day.
This tiny change to the way you go about your daily life can turn the ripple into a wave.
Consult The Tarot Cards
You can do this on your own as I believe that everybody has the ability to interpret tarot cards.
Just do a simple 3 card spread:
- What should I be grateful for?
- How should I express that gratitude?
- What impact or change will it bring?
Here is an example:I’m seeing that I should be grateful that I’ve been able to move on and leave the past behind me. This is a period of change but there have definitely been good times and the 8 cups show that there has been a lot of love and happiness in my life.
There is a need to express that gratitude by letting down my walls and looking to the future. I shouldn’t forget the past but it shouldn’t define me. I get from this that it’s important that I tell my story and inspire others to learn from the good and bad things that have happened in my life.
The change will be quite rapid. There is a lot of energy created by me telling my story and as well as helping me move on and become more active that will have a ripple effect to those that I touch as well.
Go on….give it a try. Even if you just do one of these things. Don’t forget to let me know how you go with it. You can comment below or you can email me firstname.lastname@example.org
Nice to be reminded of the power of gratitude – thanks David. Cheers – Tess : ) tessholderness.com
You are welcome Tess. As I was writing this post I was reminded that it doesn’t take much to make a really powerful change to somebody’s day.
This is a great reminder. I find I have been stuck on the same few things in my gratitude practice. These tips are helping me move outside of that container. Using tarot is an interesting twist.
Happy to help X