Most people don’t realize how stressed they really are, especially around the holidays. You may think you’re coping, meanwhile, a different story is likely being told underneath your skin. For example, did you know that stress can cause junk food cravings, anxiety, and weight gain?
You can choose to react to everyday challenges in one of two ways—freak out and complain, or breathe, live in the moment, and focus your attention on one task at a time. I have found that you can make a significant difference in how you cope with stress by devoting the first few minutes of your day to a practice of gratitude.
According to Robert A. Emmons, professor of psychology at UC Davis, “Clinical trials indicate that the practice of gratitude can have dramatic and lasting effects in a person’s life. It can lower blood pressure, improve immune function and facilitate more efficient sleep.” It just so happens that all three of these tend to be aggravated by too much stress.
I’ve kept a gratitude journal for over five years and I can’t even begin to tell you the difference it has made in my life. If you would like to develop an attitude of gratitude, why not try a 30-day gratitude challenge this holiday season? All you have to do is grab a notebook and pen and for thirty days, simply write down three things you are grateful for and why.
If you’re up for the 30-day challenge and would like to have a little fun with it and even involve your entire family, get a tall glass jar or see-through container and write your daily gratitude entries on small pieces of paper. Fold them up and drop them into the container and watch as it fills up over the thirty days. At the end, dump out the contents and read all of the statements with your family! Don’t be surprised if you find yourself on a “gratitude high” and feel compelled to keep the momentum going past the thirty days.
The holidays are the perfect time to invite a positive challenge into your life for a change. Don’t you agree?