I feel that with so many of us in New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut suffering from the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, we can all use a little help in raising our spirits. You may ask, “How does this have anything to do with our bones?” When we are under stress, our body releases a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol is our body’s own steroid that weakens our bones. For our bones and our overall health, we need to reduce our stress.
One of my favorite techniques, when I feel stressed and overwhelmed by events beyond my control, is what I call my gratitude list. I just stop and think about all the things I am grateful for. By focusing on thoughts of gratitude, you can actually counter stressful negative feelings. This does not take away the real challenges you may be facing but will help reduce the stress. I love the quote by Ashley Davis Bush, LCSW in the Huffington Post, “Gratitude is the antidote to our most stressful thoughts. In an environment of gratitude, negative emotions cannot thrive.” This seems so easy and obvious, but it is really powerful and works.
Here is a great exercise that can help bring gratitude into your life. It is called the “Three Blessing Exercise.” Before you go to sleep at night, write down three good things that occurred during your day. Then write down why each one of them happened. This exercise was developed and tested by Dr. Martin Seligman, the Director of the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania. His study showed that by doing this exercise, happiness levels increased and stayed higher as long as the participants continued the practice.
So, join me in bringing gratitude into our lives. At the top of my list, tonight is to be thankful for having a great friend who my husband and I have been staying with while our house remains dark, cold, and without electricity. Ironically, her name is Sandy.