How to Use Gratitude to Manage Stress and Find Peace
Gratitude is the first daily habit for working wonders for me to manage stress and find peace. Naturally, it had to be during a difficult situation! Do you know what I mean?
Over the years that I heard so much gratitude journaling in different psychology and spiritual blog posts, it didn’t work for me.
When a particularly stressful situation came up, I needed to find some peace.
It was around that time I also became a text coach. What’s a text coach? A coach who can go anywhere with people because there’s an app for text coaching! It works wonders for people who want to reach a goal, build a skill or change a habit.
But besides using a coach there, I could more easily track my daily gratitude – and get thumbs up from other members for it. Then I could see progress points of 30 days straight, 180 days straight, and the longest streak of 258 days.
Who doesn’t like a little cheerleading now and then? Sure better than journaling for me.
These days I’ve moved away from logging in to track my gratitude 3 to 5 things, because of this daily habit is on auto-pilot.
I’m not perfect with my gratitude practice and likely never will be. However, I have learned some tips to make it as much of a daily habit as you would want to!
Using Gratitude to Manage Stress and Find Peace
1. Plan A: Note 3 to 5 things you are thankful for every day first thing in the morning. These can be simple everyday things or significant happenings. Some days for me it is as simple as – I feel grateful for the sun shining today, or I feel thankful for my lunch today. Other days it’s more – I’m truly grateful for a new paying project!
2. Plan B: The morning got away from you? In the afternoon, it was the last thing on your mind to find something to note about your gratitude? Another way to start using gratitude to manage stress and find peace is just as your head hits your pillow think in your head or speak out loud, just 3 to 5 things through your day for which you are grateful.
3. Be thankful in the moment. Often when I shop at my nearby grocery store as I walk in particular through the produce department, I will think and whisper, “Thank you for all these organic cucumbers.” This act of gratitude is also being mindful or being in the moment.
4. Give back in your community. We are talking about how to use gratitude and certainly, the journal and expressing thankfulness are the easiest way to get a daily habit. If you ever have the opportunity to volunteer at your church or your community, this is a different way to express your appreciation for what you have. Last year I volunteered at a homeless shelter for the first time in my life. It was quite humbling.
5. Write “I appreciate you because …” notes to others. Whether you want to show gratitude to a family member or co-worker, this is something that acknowledges others while boosting their happiness. As a sales manager early in my career, I learned this at Zig Ziglar’s Train the Trainer program. When I began to use them on my return, they spread like wildfire. One employee got so many “I appreciate you because …” notes she plastered her bulletin board with them.
6. Find something to be grateful about even in a bad situation. As I was writing this post, my dear friend Jeannette Paladino was writing about a difficult situation! I couldn’t help but think to comment about a few things I thought she might consider being grateful for in the worst of a situation.
Why does gratitude work?
Robert Emmons talks about research findings of how practicing gratitude can improve our social and emotional well-being in at least four ways.
Emmons wrote Thanks! How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier, which was the first major study of gratitude. Findings included that regular, grateful thinking and acting can increase happiness by as much as 25%, help us sleep better and have more energy.
Besides it increasing happiness, being grateful blocks negative emotions like envy or resentment. Lately, I’ve been dealing with envy, or jealousy. In my Year of Miracles Course, we learned a phrase to use when we might have this toxic emotion. I modified the ending of this silent thinking wishing from the heart for abundance and happiness to others from my heart to theirs. The phrase feels more enriched with gratitude with, “And I am grateful that’s for me too!” It erases the feeling of, “I’m not deserving” which often underlies envy.
In particular for some more introverted people, the practice of gratitude can improve self-worth in some. Often when we take on a label like introvert or shy, it can cause us to feel less about ourselves. But research shows gratitude reduces social comparisons that might cause us to feel like we are not enough.
Every one of us can do better with a focus on what we have instead of what we don’t have. What Emmons says can be true for any of us: “wanting what we have can measurably change people’s lives.”
Let’s end with this bible verse for How to Use Gratitude to Manage Stress and Find Peace:
1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NLT)
Be thankful in all circumstances.
I’m grateful for you being here to read some of the actions we can take to live a more inspired, less stressful and purposeful life. If you have interest in the previous posts about joy and prayer, inspired from the Bible, here are the links for you:
#1 How to Easily Find Peace in Most Stressful Situations
1 Thessalonians 5:16 (NLT)
Always be joyful.
#2 How To Manage Most Stressful Situations To Find Peace
1 Thessalonians 5:17 (NLT)
Never stop praying.
These three Bible verses from 1 Thessalonians give us a plan for living our daily life with less stress and more peace. Summing them up for easy remembering:
Be joyful, pray continuously, be thankful in all circumstances.
If you liked this series, in particular about building a practice of mindfulness and meditation, and may have interest in learning more, please join me with a new program at httpss://www.dreamseedo.org/missions/464
Jeannette Paladino says
Patricia — this is a beautiful post (and thanks for mentioning me). I don’t have a systematic plan to express my gratitude. I think it’s because I am constantly grateful for the life the Lord has given me, even with ups and downs. I’m so lucky to have a wonderful circle of supporting friends and family. I think about that a lot because so many people don’t have anyone in their lives. Whenever I say woe is me, I think of the refuges in the Middle East who are drowning and starving and have so little to live for. It breaks my heart to think of them.
Patricia Weber says
Jeannette you are one of my dearest online friends. And even though we’ve never met in person, we have met on one of those video platforms! This is what being grateful is about: being grateful in EVERYTHING. You said, it, “I am constantly grateful.” You do have a plan – in action!
Patricia Weber recently posted…How to Use Gratitude to Manage Stress and Find Peace
Jeannette Paladino says
Thanks, Patricia. I consider you a dear friend, too. We’ve been connected via LinkedIn for years and I do wish we could meet someday. That may happen as my nephew is building a house in Williamsburg and I definitely plan to visit him!
Jeannette Paladino recently posted…Graduates: Find Your Calling in Lifeâs Abundance
Krystyna Lagowski says
Well, to start with, I’m grateful for this thoughtful post : )) I’ve found that leaving a trickle of gratitude in as many situations as I can throughout the day helps to maintain a positive attitude. The other day, a cashier packaged up an awkward purchase for me, to make it easier to carry and I made a point of thanking her. You could tell, she does this for many people and it doesn’t get appreciated. It all comes down to giving back, which, as we know, is part of a giving cycle.
Krystyna Lagowski recently posted…This 2016 Chevy Spark has “millennial” written all over it.