Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Gratitude for Reducing Stress

By Deanna Collins

It's so easy to get overwhelmed during these stressful times we are living in. The skill of combating stress is one that we can learn to achieve a heightened quality of life. A very effective way to battle stress is with cognitive redirection as well as focusing on positive aspects of our lives instead of negatives. By acknowledging any good fortunes in our lives, while not allowing problems and setbacks to take over our outlook on life is a simple, yet important way to deal with any stress we may encounter.

Many times it's just easier to be ungrateful about the things we do not have instead of being grateful for the positive things we have been dealt or what we have achieved. These positive parts of our lives are often overlooked and taken for granted until some sort of disaster hits. All too often we can forget about having a roof over our heads, a warm bed and even a hot shower. Once we can identify those things for which we have to be grateful for, we have the perfect exercise for positive thinking, and it could actually change our feelings towards stress as well as balancing out the related effects.

The factors causing stress are many, but it is defined as a state where an individual is not in equilibrium with their individual surroundings. It is known to us now that the distinction between both body and mind is of limited usefulness. Negative thoughts are able to have an affect on the body, just as trauma can affect the mind. Experiences of stress prompting negative emotions may have a direct affect when it comes to body chemistry. In response to any threat or stress, our bodies produce hormones and other chemicals, such as adrenalin and cortisol.

Fortunately this works both ways. A calming environment along with some positive thoughts can fight the mental and physical effects of stress. Allow yourself a bit of time every day simply to concentrate on the positive - even if it is as little as a few minutes - you will be able to remove yourself from the causes and effects of stress.

The need to recognize those bursts of good fortune can have a radical effect on our perspective. Problems have a tendency to cast a dark cloud so to speak over the parts of our lives that are going well and distorting our perspective on things. Let's take for example that sense of panic we feel when tasks are uncompleted instead of giving ourselves some praise over what we did accomplish. When the period of stress is prolonged or extended, it is entirely possible for us to develop unhealthy patterns of jumping automatically to a negative conclusion. By focusing on those things that make us happy is a very powerful technique we can use to overcome that pattern of thinking negatively, thereby reducing stress as well as giving a boost to the immune system.

If you are tense, stressed and can't see the wood for the trees, it may initially be hard to identify things to be grateful for. It may take practice, but it can be something as simple as a sunny day or a flower blooming in the garden. At first you will probably rely on hindsight but with time you will find it becoming easier.

As you train yourself to recognize how many things you have to be grateful for, you will stop taking these things for granted. Seeing that flower blossoming will immediately trigger the recognition that there is much to celebrate. As you integrate this appreciation into your daily functioning you will discover how the process reinforces positive thinking and with it your capacity to deal with stress. - 16651

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