‘Tis the Season to Practice Gratitude
It is that time of year in Jersey that we have all so patiently waited for, Spring. The light at the end of the tunnel from a cold, blisterious winter. The sun is out longer, the flowers are starting to bloom, buds are blossoming on the tree and we are all breaking free from being cooped up inside and starting to stretch our legs.
While the warmer days might be ahead, some of our areas of focus or concern might still remain. Although our worries/cares do not diminish easily, it is important to remember to stop and enjoy the little things.
Living in the hustle and bustle of the Tri-state area, we are constantly on the move. We are running from point A, to B, then to D, and maybe back to A. Within that grind, it is hard to prioritize yourself, notice your surroundings and truly appreciate what this world has to offer. While it may seem like a treacherous task to stop and enjoy those little things, it helps strengthen your practice of gratitude, mindfulness and self care.
What is gratitude and why do I need to practice it?
Gratitude is the art of truly feeling grateful for the things in your life, expressing your gratitude towards those who have positively impacted your life and/or adopting new beneficial behaviors based on the things and people who have made your world a better place. We can easily say what and who we are grateful for, but it is important to practice gratitude exercises to heighten the emotions, deepen the feelings and enhance the meaning.
Gratitude Exercises to Practice:
- Gratitude Journal – write down a few good things that happened throughout your day. Could be making a fresh cup of coffee, talking to a friend, crushing a workout, catching the sunset.
- Giving many thanks – take note of things that you give you reasons to say thank you, including special people in your day.
- Grateful contemplation – Exert a mental exercise by taking several minutes to acknowledge the things you do on a daily basis, but take for granted. Example- brushing your teeth or making your bed.
- Gratitude Letter – Write a letter to someone who has made an impact on your life that you want to thank or acknowledge their presence in your life. You may choose to send them the letter or not.
What is Self-Care and why is it important?
After reading this, you may be thinking that you are lucky if you can cram gratitude into your busy schedule. But another aspect that helps you put the focus on you and helps you stop and enjoy the little things is self-care.
Self-care is classified as the ability to take care of yourself with behaviors or actions that promote health and well-being.
Self-care is an item/activity that should absolutely be practiced on a daily basis for at least 15-60 minutes per day. Individuals should engage in some form of self care daily that relates to food choices, exercise, sleep, relaxation or hygiene type of care. Self-care also promotes helping maintain a healthy relationship with yourself. It is time to put yourself at the center of the universe and take that time to unwind and cater to you!
Listed below are items that can be included in self-care:
- Eat a healthy meal/snack
- Engage in an exercise activity
- Practice good sleep hygiene
- Sit in and enjoy the sunlight
- Take a bubble bath or hot shower
To Be Mindful is to Be in the Moment
You may be thinking, “mindfulness, isn’t that the meditation hokey stuff?”
While you are not entirely off, as meditation is a part of mindfulness, it is so much more than that.
Mindfulness is the act of being completely present in the moment, focusing in on your senses and allowing yourself to be aware without any form of judgment.
Mindfulness is a beneficial daily exercise that can help keep you focused on what is in front of you, rather than you being in your head thinking about the past or what is to come.
Envision mindfulness like a car. The rearview mirror is your past, and that is small, you are not going back there. The windshield, which is bigger, is your present and you need to remain focused on what is directly in front of you to help you to where you are going. Listed below are some helpful ways to stay in the present moment and to enjoy the little things.
Mindfulness Grounding Technique
No matter where you are — the grocery store, school, in your house, on a walk — heighten your senses and focus on everything that is right there in front of you.
Complete this checklist by going into specific detail.
- 5 things you can see
- 4 things you can hear
- 3 things you can touch/feel
- 2 things you can smell
- 1 thing you can taste
It is important to remember that sometimes, you may not be able to find all of those options based on your surroundings. If that is the case, think of images, sounds, objects, smells and tastes that you enjoy that make you feel happy, calm and content. Take note of how you feel after this exercise. You might just feel relaxed and happy and your worries will have vanished in those moments.
If you are struggling to manage being present in the moment, practicing gratitude or are having a hard time implementing self-care, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Licensed professionals can help you talk through your feelings, practice mindfulness exercises, and put you at the top of your priority list.
Jane Dustman is a LCSW who enjoys spending her free time with family and friends, hanging on the beach, practicing yoga and dancing. Jane is dedicated to her practice of social work and enjoys being a full-time therapist at Exceptional Wellness Counseling. EWC has locations in Manalapan and Shrewsbury, NJ, and accepts a variety of insurances.
Check out Jane’s professional bio Here
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