By: Sandy Churchill
We’ve all been there… the stress of a meltdown, the jar that falls from the fridge and shatters, the tailgater spreading toxic road rage, the colicky baby crying nonstop, the snippy comments from your partner, the lousy news from your insurance company, the frustration of a financial squeeze, the crabby mood of your boss/co-worker/teenager/etc.
We all have bad days or stressful moments when we pause at the precipice of a mood-altering tidal wave where the rest of the day seems to divide into the paths of “ruined” or “resurrected.” Indeed, it can be tough to rise above some of the tougher situations when we feel spent or simply beyond our limits. We share this experience as flawed human beings, doing the best we can, but there is a helpful tool available to us.
Summed up in a word, the tip comprises “gratitude.” Seriously? You might be thinking this is crazy, overly-simplistic, or even insulting as a suggestion. Hang on… there is hope here. This strategy is not dismissive of your angst or the complexities of your stress level. Rather, it can be a tried-and-true remedy that helps far more than you ever imagined.
The sudden reset happens when we set out to picture or acknowledge three “gratefuls” right in the midst of the chaos, anger, or stress meltdown. Here is an example: you woke up with a headache, were greeted with sky-high dishes in the sink because “somebody” forgot to clean up (as promised), and your phone is blowing up with texts demanding far too many favors or urgent attention. You feel squeezed and overworked and under-appreciated. The day is off to a lousy start. Now pause and take a deep breath. Your pumpkin spice coffee (impulsively purchased as a treat, since you skipped breakfast and scrambled out the door) smells heavenly. The crisp autumn day is glorious with golden sunshine. Your quirky teen made you laugh last night with his contagious sense of humor. There! Three things to make you stop and feel a wash of gratitude.
Does it fix everything or lift all the pressure? Perhaps not, but the few moments of noticing some good can have a mighty impact on your mood. Embracing three “gratefuls” can halt our downward spiral and reorient our senses so that we refocus on something different. Instead of stagnating in the swampy swirl of cortisol and adrenaline, we have the chance to float a bit with a lift in serotonin. It’s like a mini-vacation for your mind, temper, and spirit. To put it simply, we get to choose joy. The chaotic, stress-inducing happenings of health fiascos, sky-rocketing bills, or the disappointing behavior of fellow human beings might still be frequent guests in our thoughts and experiences, but they don’t get to steer your ship. You can still have a good day, even with all those things going on.
A brief walk outside or a few moments sitting in the sunshine can help us reset as we embrace our three “gratefuls.” You might find, to your surprise, that you experience more and more of what you focus on, and the grateful spirit stirs a reward beyond measure.