With the global mounting of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic, many of us are feeling stress, anxiety, and fear of the uncertainly. It is still very important to stay informed while practicing social distancing and isolation but it is also vital to look after our wellbeing. Dr. Clodagh Campbell, a leading Wellness Psychologist shares a few tips on the endless benefits of practising gratitude.
“It’s a funny thing about life, once you begin to take note of the things you are grateful for, you begin to lose sight of the things that you lack.” (Germany Kent)
Gratitude is a practice of expressing appreciation for what you have, which starts by noticing the goodness in your life. According to Sirois (2018) gratitude is one of the most powerful variables that researchers could find when it came to predicting wellbeing, over and above most known factors, from wealth and health to personality traits such as optimism. What’s more is that a recent study carried out by Cunha (2019) found that practicing gratitude on a regular basis reduces negative emotions and symptoms of depression, and increases positive emotion, happiness and life satisfaction. Sounds good huh? A free and simple way to boost your wellbeing, what more could you want?! Since I began practicing gratitude it has been a life changing experience for me, and that is in no way an exaggeration! To help you understand, let me give you an example.
I am not one of life’s lovers of exercise – never have been, never will be. I do however know that exercise benefits my mind, body, and soul, and so I try to sneak it into my life where I can. One example of this is when I was cycling to work for a period last year. Now I didn’t particularly enjoy the daily cycle, but I put up with it, and never once regretted it (we never do with exercise do we?). One day, however, just I was leaving the office to head home for the evening, the heavens opened. Due to my hatred of rain, I spent the first ten minutes of my cycle in a rage, cursing and blinding, with steam coming out of my ears! I was so angry my blood was racing, however, suddenly I realised how much of an impact the rain was having on my mood and that I had gotten myself into such a tizzy! So there and then I took a deep breath and challenged myself to identify three things I was grateful for. ⠀
Here’s what I thought:
1) That I was healthy enough to be able to cycle home
2) That I had a warm home to go to, with a hot shower and cosy pjs to climb in to.
3) That I was cycling home to my lovely family who would greet me with a hug and a “how was your day” on my arrival.
Instantly my mood changed and all of a sudden my cycle became MUCH easier. Within seconds I went from feeling rage to experiencing my heart swell with gratitude… and within that moment I truly felt like a very lucky person… now that my friends is the power of gratitude!
So how do you actually practice gratitude? The good news is it’s simple! To start you simply pause and ask yourself “What am I grateful or thankful for today?”. You might like to do this first thing in the morning or last thing at night, and as with everything in life, some days it will be easier to experience gratitude than others; but when a day comes where you can hardly summon up the energy to smile, let alone experience gratitude, that is the very day you should encourage yourself to give it a try… and you might just find that it has a magnetizing power!
To get started, here are some simple ways to initiate your gratitude practice:
Keep a gratitude journal to note the big and little joys of your daily life.
Take a moment each day to notice the beauty in nature.
Write a thank you note to someone in your life.
Last thing at night, or first thing in the morning, list three things you are grateful for. Go on give it a try, you’ll be grateful you did! The Wellness Psychologist, Dr. Clodagh Campbell.