These days I often introduce the idea of a Gratitude Journal by telling the story of Gabi MacEwan. An inspirational lady who decided to start practising gratitude after being diagnosed with terminal cancer. As she says:
“I don’t live in a constant state of bliss. Sometimes I’m frustrated, disillusioned and sad, but I heartily recommend the cumulative effect of noticing and noting the moments of delight, relief or humour each day.”
So with that recommendation I want to give you some strategies for keeping the gratitude alive when life sucks, because being told to keep a Gratitude Journal when you feel your life is going down the pan, things look bleak and your feeling low can be a big ‘ask’. It’s times like this that doing a gratitude journal can be really tough. I’ve had clients say there was just nothing in their day that they felt grateful for, some have said they were writing the same old things and grew tired of the ‘chore’. Ironically of course when life is unfairly hard is exactly when you benefit from the practice the most.
What is this About?
I recently posted on the benefits of keeping a gratitude journal, but as with many good habits you may find yourself too busy to do it when you are feeling good, and too tough when your not. So if you are like some of my original clients, you will keep a journal for a few days and then the practice of being grateful will begin to slide.
The answer is to make it habit and for that happen you need to commit to doing the practice until it becomes a subconscious reaction to think of things you are grateful for. Some people say it takes 21 days to make a habit stick, others 66, whoever is right, you will probably benefit from a strategy and support to really embed this new behaviour and way of thinking.
So having some strategies and support will help you make this positive activity a habit and today I want to focus on one of those strategies that makes keeping a gratefulness journal easy.
Why is this Important?
Because lets face it, there are times when life sucks! Whatever the reason for the ‘suckyness’, the simple act of writing down (or saying out-loud) the things for which we’re grateful gives benefits including better sleep, fewer symptoms of illness, and more happiness among adults and kids alike. Brilliant medicine when life feels like it is going down the pan and things looks bleak.
How do I Use This?
Personally I find that buying a nice journal helped me to keep me committed to the task and you may want to do the same thing. Make a conscious choice now and commit to experiencing more gratitude in your life. Then try these strategies:
- Set aside some time so you can allow yourself the opportunity to really notice the depth of your gratitude. Take time to relish and savour the feelings.
- Pick one person you know and just take time to allow all of the good reasons for having them in your life surface into your consciousness. Whenever possible focus on people and dogs in your life. Apparently whether we think of our pet dogs or children the same area of our brains are activated. So being grateful for your dog is ok!
- Go into depth – Elaborating in detail about a particular thing for which you’re grateful carries more benefits than a superficial list of many things.
If you can think of these things in terms of gifts so much the better, according to Robert Emmons, one of the world’s leading experts on the science of gratitude. His advice is:
“Be aware of your feelings and how you “relish” and “savor” this gift in your imagination. Take the time to be especially aware of the depth of your gratitude.”
I wonder if you maybe surprised at what you have been grateful for today?
The power of gratitude
Gabi MacEwan Blog: Losing the Will To Die
Do you believe other people are more interesting and loveable than you are? Do you feel your opinions do not matter? Do you lack the love and attention you need? Do you feel out of control of your life, finances and relationships? Do you believe nothing will ever change?
“Put your own oxygen mask on first. You can’t take care of others if you’re running out of air yourself.”
What is this About?
This concept of self-love is about having a good relationship with yourself and your life because it takes a strong caring and nurturing relationship with yourself to do what is necessary to improve your health, well-being and happiness.
So the first step to improving your health, well-being and happiness is to improve the relationship you have with yourself.
Sadly, many people are stuck believing that taking more care of themselves will mean others suffer, or they will be seen as selfish. Women in particular are often taught by example that they should always put other people’s needs first and may feel guilty about taking time for themselves. In many ways this is ironic because to care and help other people we really need to full of energy and enthusiasm and for that to happen we need to take care of ourselves first.
Why is this Important?
Improving your relationship with yourself is vital to taking the next step and seeking help or making changes to your life. Believing that you do matter, that you are loveable, important and in control will help to you to embark and sustain your healing journey.
This is important not just for you, but for those you love, because you will be able to help them so much by being healthy and happy.
How do I Improve?
Make a conscious decision to change and you may be surprised how you gently and slowly you begin to be kinder, more loving, more permissive and more responsible to yourself.
Take the first step and print this worksheet: Improving My Relationship with Myself. Working through it and creating some personal positive affirmations to help you become your own best friend is great way to start.
Not sure whether it is synchronicity or my brain filtering for what it wants to see but I’ve had several separate sources that have made me aware that I don’t do fun anymore. Isn’t that sad? Lol I meditate, I train, eat well, and generally ‘practice what I preach’, but in all that I have forgotten about play and fun.
The first reminder came while I was receiving Cranial Osteopathy for several nagging issues. Kate Hands, a wonderful Osteopath, mentioned that I was a bit like ‘Flat Stanley’ a fictional character from a children’s book. Apparently Flat Stanley is well… flat, two dimensional when he should be three, or even four. Initially I was surprised but subconsciously I knew she was right. As Kate said sometimes we just get flattened by life circumstances. But if meditation, EFT and all the other tools I know were not helping what would?
The second reminder came while reading Mark Sisson’s Daily Apple blog. I stumbled across his Primal Blueprint for Fitness, a free Ebook that details a functional fitness routine using progressive body-weight exercises. Now since our move I have no room for my weights, and my gym membership expired so this routine appealed. The guy is also 57 and physically impressive, so I read more.
Mark’s reason to exercise and be fit involves enjoying life and enjoying play. Indeed he says “the ability to play, to engage in unscripted, random bouts of youthful exuberance with loved ones, friends, and family – is the ultimate goal of Primal Blueprint Fitness”. This nurtured the seed that Kate planted and has been slowly germinating in my subconscious for a few days now.
Then this week I began seriously working through Dr Rosy Daniel’s Health Creation Programme in preparation for training to be a Health Creation Mentor. Part of that involves an assessment of my potential for health and low and behold but it flagged up again that I don’t have enough fun! Now part of this preparation involves seeing the Programme from the other side of the fence and being Mentored myself. So one of the goals suggested by my Mentor was to have ‘mandatory fun’ and to create a mood board or journal to write down ideas for how to accomplish that. So this was my third reminder!
Reading more of Mark Sisson’s resources and I kept seeing references to playing with Frisbees, something that seems completely frivolous and generates images of kids (in the US admittedly) having fun and laughing.
So I today I bought a Frisbee…
And this afternoon, I had fun throwing and catching it with Debbie.
Mark’s Daily Apple: The Lost Art of Play: Reclaiming a Primal Tradition
If you are a woman who has lost hope of regaining or even improving your health my next webinar is for you. It’s so easy to lose hope, a careless word from a Doctor, an unhelpful chat with another patient, a program on the TV. Sometimes it’s the little things that erode your hope over time, sometimes your hope is discarded ignorantly during a consultation. Maybe your diagnosis was a crushing experience, taking your breath away, leaving you numb, scarred, unable to think.
Studies have shown that if you want a chance of being healthy again, the worst state of mind is a stoic acceptance of fate, to become hopeless. One of the things I will show you on this webinar is that hope is vitally important.
In the face of ‘expert’ opinions and a system that seems most proficient of stealing control from you, it is understandable why you can end up feeling hopeless and like a mythical phoenix from the flames you can regain your hope of being healthy.
To help we will be discussing three reasons why your body has the potential for ‘self induced healing’ and looking at some real life stories. Most importantly we will be giving you practical steps to get started with. Choosing to register now is the first step of taking back control, deciding how you want to live you life.
So I really do hope you will choose to join us and just register now.
Looking forward to talking to you again.
The BBC reported recently that there would be an investigation, funded by the Alzheimer’s Society, to see how stress affects people with mild cognitive impairment or “pre-dementia”. A lot of research has been done on the link between stress and diseases like heart disease, diabetes, cancer and multiple sclerosis, showing that chronic stress can speed up the progression, or make the symptoms worse. So this research may add to the growing body of evidence on how chronic stress impacts on our physical bodies and is linked with many conditions.
This particular research seems to have been encouraged by a Swedish study that found the risk of dementia was about 65% higher in women who reported repeated periods of stress in middle age than in those who did not.
The slightly depressing aspect though is the amount of time all these studies take, before the ‘evidence’ is there and people actually start getting the help they need. For example in 2008 there was an article published on the work of Forensic psychologist, Dr Simon Duff and dementia consultant, Dr Dan Nightingale that suggests hypnotherapy may provide real benefits for those with dementia:
people living with dementia who had received hypnosis therapy showed an improvement in concentration, memory and socialisation compared to the other two treatment groups. Relaxation, motivation and daily living activities also improved with the use of hypnosis.
but how many know that?