In our modern world we often find that we are rushed off our feet with responsibilities and never ending to-do lists. We never seem to get on top of things; we may feel inadequate, not good enough and unable to cope.
Stress and poor mental health are at the top of the list of public health problems. We try to separate mental and physical health however the reality is that they can't be separated, they are part of our personal and social construct.
There is no health without mental health and stress can lead to numerous physical health problems including heart disease, insomnia, digestive issues, immune system challenges and more serious mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression.
When we are stressed, we withdraw from the situation and rely on our basic instincts of fight, flight or freeze. These instincts are our defence mechanism.
When we practice gratitude we fire up the prosocial neural networks and this can help us to combat stress.
We need to start with ourselves. By taking a little time out of our day to think about what we are grateful for, we ground ourselves and allow us to see our personal stresses more objectively. It will keep us focussed on the positives. This in turn will lead us to better self-care, eating and sleeping better, and becoming more active.
The most crucial thing you can do when you are stressed or anxious is to make sure you are continuing to look after yourself. The stress will still exist but gratitude practices help you manage these tough times and remind you that if you stop and pause, there is still good all around us and it is happening each day.
If we practice gratitude we create an environment where we are kinder and don't judge; we don't isolate ourselves from others and we engage with them and truly listen.
When we create a safe environment it makes it easier to open up and talk about what is stressing us out. It prevents us stigmatizing the stress and helps us accept that we are not alone and everyone has to deal with some stress or another.
We can use gratitude to validate the actions of others which takes away the feelings of inadequacy and makes everyone feel valued.
In this open space we are able to share our own coping strategies and encourage, support and appreciate the openness of our colleagues and loved ones.
If we treat others with respect and appreciate their kindness they will also be there for us when we are stressed.
Gratitude helps to strengthen those social connections and will make the actions of others seem worthwhile. It can also help us to become more resilient, it can help you better manage any hardships you are dealing with.
It is also about control and perspective. If we feel that our stress is recognised and we are being supported we will be better equipped to deal with whatever life throws at us.