Our mindfulness guru tells us why this simple practice can turn your mood around
Having one of those days or weeks where everything seems to be bringing you down?
Let me show you how you can U-turn your mood in just a few minutes by using gratitude. Personally, I’ve been obsessed with using gratitude to lift my mood ever since, way back when, I heard motivational speaker Tony Robbins encourage his audience to lean in to gratitude, and author Rhonda Byrne write in her book, The Secret about the benefits of listing what you’re grateful for and how it can have a huge impact on your mindset, mood and life.
It seems so simple, I can almost feel you rolling your eyes, but having a gratitude practice actually goes way beyond a fluffy exercise of writing down what you are thankful for; it’s backed by science. Research at UC Berkeley found that gratitude has lasting effects on the brain and Robert Emmons, who is a leading gratitude researcher, says that “regular grateful thinking can increase happiness as much as 25 percent and reduce depression.” When we practice gratitude, our brains release dopamine and serotonin, which affect our emotions and help us to feel good. I remember when I was going through a low time in my life and the choice was to keep feeling low, or try different mind tools to try and retrain my brain and somehow switch my mood. I decided that I might as well give this whole gratitude thing a go; I had everything to win and nothing to lose. I mean, my parents had taught me to be grateful in life anyway and never take anything for granted, but to really dive in and make it a positive practice in my life, took a little time. I’m going to share with you here how I even made it part of my workout regime and, later, part of my morning ritual, so you can do it too. Here are three easy ways to incorporate gratitude into your day.
Simple ways to embrace gratitude
As soon as you wake up in the morning, while making your coffee or taking a shower, start listing in your mind what you are grateful for: it can be anything from, ‘I’m grateful I’m awake’, ‘I’m healthy’, ‘I have a loving family’, or whatever feels right for you. The other way is to use gratitude in your fitness routine; I simply use it as a way of appreciating my body and exercise some self-love, adding it whenever I’m walking or running and it’s seriously powerful. As you are exercising just start to repeat in your mind what you love and are grateful for within your body, like the fact that it’s supporting you every day and you feel energised, strong, powerful and youthful. Use the words that inspires you and switch them daily. You can also create a happiness and gratitude board for your wall to spark joy each day, where you add your own feel-good photos or cut out pictures from magazines that reminds you of everything you love in your life, like a beautiful garden, having fun with your friends or a healthy lifestyle. Extending your gratitude to others is also a great way to improve a situation between friends or loved ones; it can help someone else have a great day instead of an average day – a simple ‘I appreciate you,’ or ‘I’m grateful for you’ might be exactly what they need to hear to turn their day around.
What to read this month
The Invisible Load: A Guide to Overcoming Stress and Overwhelm, Dr. Libby WEaver
This book is so pleasing to the eye; it’s one of those you will want to place on your coffee table. However, the gorgeousness of this book doesn’t stop at the pretty cover, it’s also filled with beautiful pictures inside and fabulous hints and tips on how to navigate through life, stress and overwhelm. I feel like this book has taken some of the most helpful information about health and wellness and put it all into one place for us. It teaches us about the brain and how thoughts become stress. It goes on and explains in detail about production of stress hormones and what to do and not to do to add to the stresses in our lives. It also goes into depth about how stress affects our gut health, which is truly fascinating – if you’re suffering from digestive issues or any other stress-related issues, this book really gets to the core of what happens between the mind and the body and gives so many helpful suggestions about how to deal with things in a different way and improve your life. My favourite chapter in the whole book is Priorities and Values, in which Dr. Libby asks the reader to consider when they say, ‘you don’t have time for something,’ you actually mean ‘that it is not a priority for you,’ and that gives us all food for thought.