Winter can be a dreary season of cold, short days, and even longer nights. After the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, the time from January until April can seem dull and, at times, downright depressing. Add to that the current energetic climate of the world going into the third year of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic; at times, it can be too much to bear mentally.
The stress of life and the past few years is precisely why it’s time to turn to a simple yet effective remedy — practice an attitude of gratitude. Yes, something as simple as a daily practice of gratitude studies show can rewire your brain to fight the depression associated with the Winter Blues.
According to an article from Harvard Health Publishing — Two psychologists, Dr. Robert A. Emmons of the University of California, Davis, and Dr. Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami, have done much of the research on gratitude. In one study, they asked all participants to write a few sentences each week, focusing on particular topics. After 10 weeks, those who wrote about gratitude were more optimistic and felt better about their lives. Surprisingly, they also exercised more and had fewer visits to physicians than those who focused on sources of aggravation. The results proved that gratitude affects brain function on a chemical level, and its practice promotes feelings of self-worth and compassion for others.
Beyond the scientific evidence, there is a connection to enhancing your spiritual wellbeing through gratitude. Being able to master your mental and spiritual wellness can be a critical factor in an overall general sense of calm, contentment, and joy — giving a sense of peace amid the storm of life.
Although there are many ways to practice gratitude, here are two of my favorite ways to cultivate a practice of gratitude:
Gratitude meditation: In the morning, before your mind is flooded with possibly lower vibrations of emails, Instagram, and duties of your day, take a moment with your favorite cup of coffee or tea to sit in a quiet place. Once you’re comfortable, visualize one moment in your life where you were happy. This moment doesn’t have to be grandiose; it can be something simple, like the smile of your child—the smell of fresh flowers, the feeling of the sun on your face. Once you have the moment visualized, then hold in the space. Be sure to take note of all of the beauty surrounding that moment, any sounds, recalling any smells. Once you’ve sat in the moment for at least five minutes, breathe out and say, “I am grateful for that moment and my life. Finally, hold that energy throughout the day.”
Journaling: The Five-Minute Journal by Intelligent Change is one of my favorite ways to stay consistent in practicing an attitude of gratitude. Created for those who want a simple, quick yet effective way to rewire their brain towards thankfulness — the journal gives scientific explanations on how it works and the importance of this practice for your overall health. It takes only five minutes in the morning and once again at night to make this a part of your spiritual and mental wellness routine.
I am an advocate for living life fully through cocktails and good food, and even using these methods as a means of comfort during times when the winter blues is upon me, and I am feeling somekindaway — but the benefits of practicing gratitude don’t widen your waistline or stretch your wallets — it’s something free that can immediately show a positive impact! Try it today!