by Barry Wolfson
Stress is often cited as a major impediment to our physical and mental health. Wouldn’t it be great to have a magic pill or a vaccine against stress? The practice of gratitude, it turns out, may be just the thing to help reduce stress.
Dr. Robert Emmons, a psychology professor at University of California, Davis, says, “Grateful people take better care of themselves and engage in more protective health behaviors like regular exercise, a healthy diet, regular physical examinations.” He goes on to say that “practicing gratitude on a daily basis reduces stress hormones by 23 percent.” Although gratitude seems to some a new buzzword, the benefits of gratitude have been extolled for centuries and around the world.
Thich Nhat Hanh—an 86-year-old Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk—is a teacher, author, poet and peace activist who was nominated for the Nobel Peace prize by Dr. Martin Luther King. He relates waking up every morning, being grateful for a “non-toothache”. Those who have experienced a toothache can certainly relate to the gratitude one has once the pain is gone.
There are several strategies to develop an attitude of gratitude and incorporate it into everyday life. A gratitude journal is often recommended to get started. For example, at the end of the day, we could simply note five things for which we are grateful. For others, reminders to stop for a moment of gratitude can be assisted by an alarm set on a mobile device or clock.
With respect to weight loss, a study published in the Journal of The American Dietetic Association found that when using methods such as gratitude, to increase their belief in their ability to reach their goals, participants’ eating habits improved—and so did their weight loss. One intervention recommended is to become aware of and emphasize those areas of our bodies for which we are grateful.
Melody Beattie, an influential self-help expert, reminds us that, “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.”
Barry Wolfson is a hypnotist and director of Hypnosis Counseling Center, in New Jersey, for over 26 years. He specializes in helping others overcome issues of stress, weight loss and to quit smoking. Connect with him at 908-996-3311 or HypnosisNJ.com. November 2014.