Wellness: 9 Ways To Create A Gratitude Practice

Wellness Wednesday

A healthy body starts with a healthy mind; taking care of your emotional health is just as important as taking care of your physical health. When you work in fashion, it’s easy to get lost in the outer, and reminders like this article by Sasha Nelson, Brooklyn-based yoga instructor and certified wellness + lifestyle coach, are essential. 

Sasha Nelson

Have you ever been in a situation where everything is going smoothly, until one little thing throws you off and you begin to pinpoint everything that is going wrong? It’s a human reaction we have, but it’s also a human reaction we can choose to improve. We all have this survival mechanism to prepare us for the worst and protect us from dangerous encounters or suffering.

Unfortunately, what can wind up happening, is for this natural tendency to overshadow the things that are going well at the present moment. It can keep us stuck in the past (which we can’t change) or cause us to worry about potential future outcomes (which haven’t even happened yet).

Life is sometimes a hard pill to swallow. Obstacles can sneak up on us that keep us from having the experience we initially hoped for. So when the unavoidable appears, how do we avoid the downward spiral towards negative-ville?

A gratitude practice can actually cultivate a more positive outlook on life. Here are 9 simple ways you can create your own gratitude practice – pick what resonates with you or tweak it to help you find a bit of light at the end of the occasional dark tunnel:

1. Write down or share with someone 3-10 things you’re grateful for every day. I share three things before bed, but have also written things down in the morning to reflect on the previous day.

2. Meditate for however long is feasible for you. My current practice is 8 minutes after I wake up, and if I can’t sit in front of my candle at home, I’ll set my timer while walking or on the subway. Simply notice  when thoughts or emotions arise before letting them pass, without  judgment of what they are or why they come up. This can help cultivate  space in non-desirable situations, and encourage you to find gratitude in the lesson it’s teaching you, or shift your focus to things that are currently going well.

Sasha Nelson's yoga retreat in Barbados

Sasha Nelson’s yoga retreat in Barbados

3. Smile, even when (especially when) you feel like you can’t. The act of smiling might remind you of something that makes you smile, or something you’re grateful for.

4. When you tell someone thank you, look them straight in the eye and say it like you mean it. It feels good to truly appreciate someone else.

5. When life feels rough, bring to mind something you are grateful for. When I feel run down, I think of how happy I am to be doing what I love, surrounded by people I love. It makes the “struggle” feel much lighter.

6. When you feel grateful for something in the moment (laughing with friends/family or holding a puppy) try to let yourself fully be in it. Be presently, completely, unbearably happy.

7. Hug people. I mean a real hug.

gratitude is what turns what we have into enough

8. Do what you love, every day. Whether you find joy in creating spreadsheets, doing laundry, reading, writing, painting, singing, playing with kids, being around animals, cooking – even if it’s only for 2 minutes, do it. You will recognize how grateful you are for the ways in which this activity fills your heart.

9. Take care of yourself, and allow wiggle room for errors. When we take good care of and respect our bodies (even the mistakes it makes), we may find gratitude in all our bodies do for us. Think of the mysterious  internal workings of our body and what it does to keep us functioning each day – these things often go unnoticed, but we will become more aware of it when we fuel ourselves with nourishing physical and mental practices (like eating well and exercising). Take time to wholeheartedly appreciate what is going well in your life. Notice how feeling grateful for something can reboot your heart and energy, even if only for a moment.

Do you have a favorite gratitude practice, and how does it help you turn your frown upside down?

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