Does focusing on your daily challenges lead to stress? Thinking of your challenges in this way can cause you to feel fatigued, with low energy. The mind can gravitate toward stressful thoughts without us even realizing it’s happening. The good news is that we have the power to change our perspective by refocusing on gratitude; we can train ourselves to focus on those things we are grateful for in the present moment.
Positive reframing of your thoughts can lead to many short and long-term benefits. As we bring to mind thoughts about our strengths, we build more compassion for ourselves and more positive relationships with people who support our health and well-being. By turning our thoughts to our strengths, we can be more productive, and we may even feel better equipped to take risks and try new activities because we are being kinder to ourselves – even if we fall short.
Pausing to be grateful for the people, places and things that matter most to us is an extremely important self-care skill. Take some time to listen to Dr. Christiane Wolf’s beautiful recording as she teaches us to be grateful for our own body and mind.
As you practice this skill and shift your attention from “what’s the matter with you” to “what matters to you,” you may notice that you feel energized and more capable of taking on the day’s challenges.
There are many ways to do gratitude practices. Try writing down three things you are grateful for each day or sharing one thought of gratitude with a friend, colleague or relative. Whichever method you choose, remind yourself often of the things that are going well in your life. Gratitude is empowering and healing and can support your whole health.
For more information on gratitude practices, please see resources here: https://www.va.gov/WHOLEHEALTH/circle-of-health/mindful-awareness.asp.
Sometimes we feel down in the dumps or unable to focus on the positive things in life. For most of us, this can be a temporary slump, but sometimes it can be a symptom of deeper problems. If you or someone you know is facing a more significant crisis, it is important to get help. If you are feeling increased challenges and stressors and would like to speak with someone, please reach out to the VeteransCrisisLine.net, call 800-273-8255, Press 1; or Text 838255.
Kavitha Reddy, MD, FACEP ABoIM, is a national whole health champion with the VHA Office of Patient-Centered Care and Cultural Transformation, and the Whole Health System clinical director for VASTLHCS.