The act of pressing pause and taking a moment to reflect and express gratitude is tremendous. It is my hope that we do this today, with appreciation for those who have experienced war and committed to a vision greater than themselves for the benefit of their country.
Beyond today though, let's talk about the benefits of expressing gratitude on our health.
1. Physical health
Grateful people have lower pain levels. They are also more likely to take care of themselves, exercise, and have regular medical appointments.
2. Emotional well-being
It has been shown that people who practice gratitude have lower rates of depression and report feeling happiness. Regularly being grateful helps to shed negative emotions like envy, regret, jealousy, and frustration. It also reduces the likelihood of seeking revenge or retaliation as feelings of empathy and understanding go up. Furthermore, it's been shown that being grateful and focusing on positives helps to improve resiliency when going through stressful times.
Appreciation for your own life or performances lessens the need to compare to others and lowers the feeling of resentment that can come from these comparisons.
Having a daily ritual around gratitude has been shown to improve sleep quality and reduce insomnia. I suspect this has to do with reframing anxiety and focusing on positives to change focus and mindset before bed. I see many people whose daytime thoughts (or suppressed emotions) pop up through the night. Changing your thought patterns will help you to rest more fully.
How to practice gratitude
1. Write thank you notes (it can be texts or emails too)
2. Keep a gratitude journal
- I will often have people who are struggling with emotional challenges or stress record one or two things that they are grateful for each day. Sometimes it's pizza. Other times it's the smile on your child's face. Doing this at bedtime seems to be especially helpful for sleep, but you can do it at any time of day that makes sense for you.
3. Meditate/Praying/Deep Breathing
- Just taking a few moments to mentally slow down and acknowledge the good puts you in the mindset of being grateful, and shows the universe your appreciation.
4. Slow down
- Doing regular activities with intention, whether it's eating a meal by chewing slowly and tasting the flavours, sitting with a cup of tea, and doing one thing at a time (not multitasking) brings us out of that fight or flight mode and brings new perspective to simple things.
It is also my hope that we continue to do this each and every day not just today, showing appreciation for all the things that have helped to shape us and bring us joy. Gratitude lowers stress levels. It connects us to the universe. And it makes a difference in someone else's life.
We don't show our remembrance for these reasons, but if you get in the habit of being grateful, light and peace will follow.
We remember. Thank you.