Written by: Jewell Singletary
We are living through a historic moment right now. Our stress responses are activated. People across the world are feeling worry because our futures are uncertain. Anxious because we’re on lockdown at home with loved ones or maybe even depressed because we’re isolated at home with them. Our brains are sending signals to our adrenal glands to start pumping more cortisol throughout our body. Hormones are releasing and our sympathetic nervous system kicks into high gear turning on our physical responses to stress. We may feel our heart rate or blood pressure rise, maybe chest flutters or stomach flops. Some of us experience stress headaches or difficulty sleeping; there are so many different ways the physical sensations of anxiety are activated in our bodies when we feel unsafe or unstable. We would need much more space than this blog to get really deep into the different ways that acute and chronic stress impact our brains and bodies. Just know that you can control the way that stress manifests itself in your body. Neuroscientists have proven that a consistent gratitude and meditation practice increases the feel-good hormones like dopamine and serration; which helps to reduce stress levels and toxic emotions. Mindfulness tools allow us to access our parasympathetic nervous systems and activate our calming, relaxation response to improve our overall sense of well being. Tap into the brain stimulating benefits of gratitude with these 4 powerful practices. Try them solo or as a one-two combo with your fav meditation technique! PEN TO PAPER: Grab your journal, notebook, or diary. Scribe out whatever you’re grateful for in that moment. Make the practice your own. You decide if your appreciation style is a bullet point list or if you set a timer and let it flow. Maybe make it into a morning or bedtime ritual to start or close your day with intention. GRATITUDE JAR: Morph into your inner creative crafter. Empty out one of your rationed spaghetti jars. Decorate with ribbons, thread, chalkboard stickers and markers. Write something you’re grateful for on a post-it, fold it up and fill your jar. I like to comb through the contents of my gratitude jar at the end of each year as a reminder of all the little things I was grateful for like soft pillows on a sunny Saturday. MEDITATION MANTRAS: Auditory learning might be your jam in which case you might like to repeat meditation mantra to audibly resonate with a gratitude practice. Here’s a centering thought I lean on when I need a nudging reminder to ground in something greater than my fear: I appreciate all, I show my gratitude, I give thanks. Be well everyone!