What does gratitude mean to you? For me it is recognizing the inherent good in all situations, all people and all things. Sometimes I feel grateful for something that has happened to me, or for something someone has done for me and other times I just feel grateful for being alive, for my human experience and being able to see, hear, smell, taste and so on. Have you ever stopped and felt gratitude for the birdsong, or the sunrise and the way it tinges the sky pink and orange with some dark navy blue to contrast it with?
Unbeknown to me, when I started researching for this short article, there have been many studies done on the benefits of feeling gratitude. Benefits to physical health such as reducing blood pressure, improving immune function, reducing inflammation, and facilitating better sleep.
On the mental and emotional level gratitude reduces the risk of depression and anxiety and even helps in the recovery from substance abuse. Studies have also shown it is a key resiliency factor in preventing suicidal feelings. When undergoing an fMRI test, it was noted that subjects who practiced gratitude had more activation in the reward centre of the brain, and the part that is key in forming social bonds. So overall, a simple attitude of gratitude can lead to better physical and psychological health, improved self-esteem, increase happiness and life satisfaction, protection against burnout, enable one to have more resiliency after trauma and it evens helps improve relationships and job satisfaction!
So back to the immunity..............did you know that engaging in feelings of gratitude has been found to increase salivary Immunoglobulin-A (S-IgA) for up to 5 hours! That's an amazing immune boost, and the best of all, it costs nothing and has a host of other benefit as mentioned above. I was reminded the other day in a post I read online that S-IgA is the first line of defense against any germs in the upper respiratory tract. This is such good news especially in this stressful and uncertain time we find ourselves in at the moment.
Of course, you would still follow the advice of your doctor or healthcare professional, this does not replace any of those interventions and advice, it is a holistic approach to use alongside whatever steps you're taking to protect yourself.
Since habits, like feeling gratitude, take practice, hypnosis is the perfect way in which to explore and implement an attitude of gratitude. I am available for individual sessions as well as groups, and whether we meet in person or online, the outcome is the same. What can you do to get started in the meantime?
Start a gratitude journal, this can be a digital journal or paper based, you could even start a daily Facebook post as a dear friend of mine did so a couple of years ago. I used to look forward to her daily posts which went on for over a year, and could almost feel her gratitude through her words.
So, take a break every 5 hours or so and play with feeling gratitude, here are a few ideas you can start with:
Each day, write down 3 things that you're grateful for, 3 new things each day, no repeats. You'll find over time that you start to dig deeper and find gratitude in the smallest of things. And of course, if you know about the law of attraction then you'll end up having even more to be grateful for!
You could also write gratitude letters to people who have had a positive impact on your life in some way, and whom you didn't thank properly at the time.
If these seem too difficult because you're a glass half empty kind of person, do what is known as Mental Subtraction. Imagine how your life would be if a certain "good event" had not happened. That way you will start to feel the gratitude for life as it is now because of that "good event".
Barriers to Gratitude
Researchers have discovered that there are some barriers to gratitude, which will make feeling grateful difficult and they are: envy; materialism; cynicism and narcissism. Apart from narcissism, which is a personality disorder that I am not qualified to work with, my hypnosis programs can help you let go of envy, materialism and cynicism by finding the root cause and clearing that, opening the way to gratitude and ultimately abundance.
If you enjoyed this article and feel you could benefit from a session or few with me, get in touch today, I do online and in person sessions, and your first 30 minutes session is free!
Written by Leanne Liddle.
PS If you want to read a wonderful white paper on all the research on gratitude, here is the link :)