Before I became a Holistic Lifestyle Coach, I was suffering from chronic stress and all the fun things that go along with it: anxiety, depression, weight gain and fatigue. Despite what was going on around me, my constant state was one of overwhelm. I began to realize that this had less to do with my circumstances and more to do with my ability (or lack thereof) to handle stress. Years of not managing my stress appropriately had left me exhausted, which in turn led to brain fog and procrastination that created even more anxiety.
I was living a viscous cycle of overwhelm, recovery and overwhelm again and it was getting old.
When I finally hit rock bottom, I began praying for a tool to help me turn things around. Fortunately I found one. That tool was a gratitude practice. Every day for several months I wrote down 5 things I was grateful for in a small journal. My holistic health counselor, who recommended this practice to me, instructed me to focus on the feeling I got when I wrote down each item.
My practice took only a few minutes a day, but WOW, how powerful it was.
Over time this simple practice literally transformed my entire outlook on life and as a result empowered me to get out of my head and into my heart, which I have found to be a much more enjoyable – and much less stressful – place to be.
The success I experienced led me to create a guided journal designed specifically for practicing gratitude: From Gratitude to Bliss: A Journey in Health and Happiness (available at The Dolphin BookShop).
What I didn’t know at the time was exactly how this practice was affecting me physiologically. Before I created From Gratitude to Bliss, I began researching the health benefits of practicing gratitude.
In Transforming Stress: The HeartMath Solution for Relieving Worry, Fatigue, and Tension, written by Doc Childe and Deborah Rozman, Ph.D., the authors point out how common it is for people to talk about stress in the same way we discuss the weather – as in, “there’s nothing we can do about it.”
Yet they remind us, “too much stress creates overload, your creativity and clarity decline and you feel disconnected from yourself.”
The solution, they present, lies in the heart, “…the physical heart can be used as a transformer to re-pattern your stress circuitry.”
“The heart is both a physical organ and an intuitive feeling center … (and) a central rhythmic force that affects other rhythms throughout your body which in turn affect your resilience.”
In my next few posts I will be looking at what happens in our bodies when we re-focus our energy away from stressful thoughts through simple techniques such as practicing gratitude. I will also be sharing tools to empower your children to stay connected to their heart.