It’s that time of year again! Thanksgiving week (at least if you’re in the United States). Facebook and Instagram are rife with thankfulness posts and probably have been all month. Many people take this week to reflect and practice giving thanks for the blessings the year has brought – and this year you ask, “Can thankfulness keep me from needing counseling in Wake Forest?” Well, I’m glad you asked!
The answer might just be yes – thankfulness can keep you from needing counseling in Wake Forest!
Did you know that a practice of giving thanks – sometimes called gratitude – can actually help you reduce feelings of anxiety and depression? If you practice gratitude regularly you may find you don’t need counseling in Wake Forest – and if you do need counseling it might not be as long!
Giving thanks (gratitude), no matter what form it takes, is associated with happiness. Expressing our gratitude also can support long-term relationships. Not only can gratitude boost your mood and strengthen relationships, but it also can improve your physical health. Research shows that practicing gratitude helps improve sleep and increase energy. It also shows that gratitude can be an “natural antidepressant” releasing dopamine and serotonin into the brain, which boosts mood. There is even evidence that maintaining a gratitude journal can reduce pain. Research conducted by HeartMath found that positive thoughts – like gratitude – can actually stop the physiological stress responses. There is even more information on how the practice of giving thanks can positively impact the brain structure, and this article is really great if you want o learn more!
Here are some amazing (and easy!) ways to practice giving thanks so you can reap the amazing benefits this practice holds!
- Gratitude journal – No need to be all fancy here (unless that’s your jam). A simple notebook is sufficient. Take a few minutes each day to write down at least five things for which you are grateful. It can be literally anything, even “I’m grateful I had enough gas in my car to get to work today.” Even on the worst days there are at least five things to be thankful for. If you’re afraid you’ll forget, set an alarm or reminder on your phone.
- I Appreciate – Tell someone three things you appreciate about them. You can appreciate anything – even the day-to-day stuff that you’re thankful for but never comment on. For example, if your spouse or child takes out the trash you can say, “Thank you so much for taking out the trash. I appreciate it.” I know you might be saying, “But it’s their job to take out the trash. It has to be done anyway.” Yes, that is true, but you are still grateful because it’s done and now you don’t have to worry about it. We practice this one with couples all the time. It is amazing to see how it changes and strengthens relationships to simply be appreciative.
- Say “thank you” – Most of us are conditioned to do this, at least a bit. But do we thank everyone? Do we actually mean it when we say it? Make it a practice to genuinely thank the cashier at the grocery store, the person helping you at the DMV, and the kids for finally picking up their socks.
- Pay it forward – When you can, do a random act of kindness. That can be as simple as picking up litter you find or as elaborate as paying for the person’s order behind you in line at Starbucks.
- Write a note to a friend – You can do this on actual paper or through a text or email. There is a lot of value in actually doing it on paper. It slows your brain down and uses a whole different processing mechanism than an electronic format does. If you mail the note to the friend that can be really powerful and meaningful. How awesome is it to get mail that isn’t a bill or junk?
- Thankfulness jar – Get a mason jar and some small slips of paper. Starting on Thanksgiving, and then daily thereafter, write down one thing for which you are thankful. Have each family member do it with you. Next Thanksgiving you’ll have 365 reminders of the good things you experienced throughout the year.
The art of giving thanks is one that can have a huge reward for those who practice it – maybe even keeping you from needing counseling in Wake Forest. If you’re feeling stuck and not sure how to even a thankfulness practice started, we would be happy to chat with you about counseling in our Wake Forest office. Reach out today at 919-891-0525 for your free, 15-minute consultation.