Practicing gratitude is all the rage these days. I seem to remember it started with Oprah and gratitude journals – for the masses anyways. This is the first time I think I remember encountering the idea of Gratitude on a mass scale anyways.
So why is a chiropractor’s blog talking about gratitude anyways? Wellness is a main tenant of chiropractic right? We, as chiropractors want people to be as well as possible as long as possible. In general, we pride ourselves on being holistic in our approach and thinking. Thinking in general is a big part of wellbeing I think (see what I did there?). I believe positive thinking effects the body in a positive way and negative thinking, well negative thinking can suck it really…
Gratitude is on my mind recently as I have really begun ‘upping my game’ in the gratitude department lately. Not that I wasn’t thankful before, I was. I am just more mindful of it now and trying to be more so increasingly daily.
Why? you ask, what has changed?
Me I guess.
Here is some back story. I have anxiety. This is not news to anyone who knows me well. One of my best friends in the world calls me neurotic (in a loving way as she is much the same). Ya, it’s true. I am. And frankly I am sick of it. I have suffered with anxiety in fits and starts that was diagnosed officially after I had my son Leo. It has come and gone since then but I had another pretty bad bout of it beginning this summer and resurging in early fall this year… but I’m feeling much better now.
So back to being sick of it. I have decided to start doing things differently and re-write my self talk and re-wire my brain. How? Affirmations, meditation, mindfulness, and you guessed it – Gratitude. Harvard medical school recently said “Expressing thanks may be one of the best ways to feel better”. I love quoting Harvard Medical School, makes me feel smrt (yes that is a Simpson’s reference. Right now my husband is super proud of me).
I didn’t just make up that Harvard part either – here is the Link – check out the first line: https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/in-praise-of-gratitude
There is research about this gratitude thing in there and everything (for us self-professed nerds) – turns out if you take groups of people and have the one group write gratitude journals for 10 weeks and the other group write anti-gratitude journals (things that irritate them or bother them) the gratitude group was more optimistic, felt better about their lives, exercised more and visited the doctor less than the anti-gratitude group (that is my term not the study’s – it amuses me).
Ever notice if you hang out with negative people a lot you become more negative?
Guess what, if you hang out with negative thoughts of your own a lot same thing happens. So lets hang out with positive thoughts shall we?
Ok, may be easier said than done. But take it from me (here is where I put my Doctor Chiropractor hat on – yes we have hats shhhh don’t tell anyone I told you that), the human body is amazingly adaptive and so is the brain. You can train it to do anything. When I was 14 years old running 2 km made me almost vomit. Now at 43 I have run 5 half marathons. If I can do that I can totally change my brain. I’m going to be Zen damnit!
This is actually remarkably simple. But it isn’t easy.
Practice gratitude. Every day.
There are many ways to do this – gratitude journal daily, send a thank you card to someone weekly, count your blessings, make things that are seemingly negative and switch them into a positive in your brain, meditate about abundance and gratitude. The trick, I think, is to do it every day. More than once per day actually. Try for hourly. Do it for a month. Then do it for three more months. Until it is habit.
Admittedly I am in the middle of doing this right now and started about a month ago. I think it may be a life long process. Not sure. Pretty good guess though.
What I can tell you is that I feel better. Not perfect all the time but resoundingly better lots of the time. I also use amazing smelling Essential Oils in my practice and life and I think they are a good reminder of this and also help. They make me happy. Whatever works.