Welcome. This is the first article in a new counselling series on stress which aims to give you simple ideas for managing stress. Today we are teaching the mindfulness based practice of cultivating gratitude. Each article contains an idea to manage stress, a short explanation why it is helpful in managing stress and an exercise based on the idea. Then it is up to you to try it out over the week. To get the most out of this series, write down how each exercise is working for you in managing your stress.
This week’s counselling tool is Cultivating Gratitude
Research within Positive Psychology has found promising results on cultivating gratitude to reduce stress levels. Higher levels of gratitude have also been linked to increased emotional well-being, healthier lifestyle, stronger relationships, feeling happier and higher life satisfaction.
Everyone can become more grateful. It is not about how much you have. It is about how grateful you are for what you have. You could be the most successful richest person in the world and not be grateful for what you have. It doesn’t cost anything to be grateful but not being grateful can be costing your happiness.
Mindfulness Exercise based on Cultivating Gratitude
Firstly right now – write down or list in your head ten things you have to be grateful for.
How long it took you and how difficult it was for you to think of ten things to be thankful for will give you an idea of your current levels of gratitude.
Did it take you less than 10 seconds? Great starting place.
Less than 30 seconds? Good. You had to think a little but you got there.
Less than a minute? Okay so thinking of 10 things was a bit difficult but you got there.
Were you unable to think of ten things? That’s okay, it will get easier.
Now, ask yourself how often are you thankful for these 10 things in your life? How often do you appreciate what you have? How often do you acknowledge the positives in your life? How often do you recognise the things you take for granted?
Hourly? Amazing! You radiate gratitude.
Only on special occasions? A lot of people fall into this category so don’t fret. You have the most room for improvement.
Now acknowledge your current level of gratitude. If you think you could increase your gratitude levels, I would encourage you over the next week aim to build on this list of 10 things. Try to be grateful for at least one thing every hour you are awake. It doesn’t have to be something new every hour, you can be grateful for the same thing over and over again. Top tip – notice the simple things.
Write down your experience if you can and you decide how helpful gratitude is in managing stress.
Counselling Sum Up
If you have enjoyed reading this article please like and share. I will introduce you to another stress managing idea next week, Free Counselling tool for Stress – Becoming Mindful. Until then have a good one.
With thanks to Luke Bennett Photography for the feature image.