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How does practicing gratitude reduce stress?

What is your natural response to stressful situations?

Select the top three

a. Anger or Frustration

b. Anxiety or Depression

c. Blame

d. Commiserate or Negativity

e. Connect with Positive People

f. Cry or Pout

g. Overwhelmed, Unmotivated or Unfocused

h. Gratitude or Thankfulness

i. Laughter

j. Restlessness

k. Seek Support

l. Self-Reflection


My top three answers were 1) anger or frustration; 2) restlessness; and 3) seeking support. Two of my three natural responses weren’t working. So, I made the choice to trade in anger or frustration for gratitude and thankfulness and restlessness for self-reflection and connecting with positive people.

When faced with stress at work or while making difficult decisions, we need to have a presence of mind to understand reality and calm our minds. We can achieve this by decreasing stress and increasing our well-being. Research shows four wellness techniques have been scientifically proven to decrease your stress and increase your well-being:

  • Increase your sleep both in terms of quality and quantity.

  • Increase your movement with exercise throughout the day.

  • Develop your mindfulness skills (via various meditation techniques).

  • Foster a culture of gratitude, at work and home.

Read the article titled Make Time for Your Wellness for more details on the four techniques mentioned above.


Let’s take a minute to dive deeper into the fourth technique proven to decrease your stress and increase your well-being: Foster a culture of gratitude, at work and home. Why do you think it is helpful to show gratitude? Research has shown that the practice of gratitude can create a greater social circle of good. Someone performs an act of gratitude for another person, and in turn, that person may be motivated to do something gracious for the former person or continue the favor for a stranger. After all, acts of gratitude aren’t only for people that you know!

Paying it forward with family, friends or strangers does not obligate you to reciprocate but it does spread positivity via gratitude.

As human beings we need to make connections, practice self-compassion, and share gratitude with each other to feel valued for our unique gifts, talents and abilities. When we are grateful, it becomes contagious in the communities where we live, work and play.

The following are ten ways you can start incorporating gratitude into your life today:

1. Use a Gratitude Box

Keep written slips of things you are grateful for each day.

2. Create a Gratitude Journal

Use a journal with a personalized cover, a notebook or your phone (there are a number of gratitude journal apps) and write down three things you are grateful for each day. Push yourself to do this every day, no matter how you feel. Make a commitment to write down three things each day for 30 days. 3. Take a Five Minute Break - Practice deep breathing and remind yourself of what you are grateful for. If you feel stressed because of work, the kids or a fight with your spouse, stop what you are doing, sit down, take several deep breaths (feel your abdomen fill up) and relax. Think about three things that make your life worthwhile.

4. Remember Difficult Times from the Past

You might take your life today for granted but chances are you have been through some difficult times that have shaped the person you are today. Remembering how far you have come and all that you have overcome can help you remember how much you have to be thankful for today.

5. Use Inspirational Quotes

Are you having a hard time sitting down and purposely thinking of what makes you grateful? Some people prefer to use inspirational quotes as their motivation for appreciating the world around them. Search online for quotes that fit your situation and take a few moments each day to reflect on the quotes you chose.

6. Create a Gratitude Board

Hang a bulletin board in a place you will see it every day. Each day write down (or post a picture) of something you are grateful for or something that went right in your life. As you post it, review what you have posted on previous days to remind yourself how much in your life you are thankful for.

7. Pay Attention to Your Thoughts

How often do you use negative words or complain about something or someone in your mind? Pay attention and when you catch yourself doing this, try to turn the thought around to something positive. If it helps, keep a notebook with a line drawn down the middle of the page. On the left side, write down your negative thought. On the right side, write a more positive way of looking at the situation.

8. Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

When you compare what you have, how you look or anything else to others, you often come up short. Remember that you are not here to measure up to someone else, you are here to be the best you can be. When you catch yourself comparing yourself to someone else, stop and reword your thought to show your appreciation to everything wonderful that is you!

9. Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness is living completely in the present moment. It helps you stay focused and calm. It shuts out worries about the future or regrets and heartaches of the past. It reminds you that "this moment" is the most important moment and the only one that matters. Use mindfulness exercises every day to help relieve stress and refocus your thoughts.

10. Tell People Thank You

Gratitude can be the most wonderful gift you give yourself and others. Say "Thank you" to the people in your life you are grateful for. Let them know what they mean to you. Not only will you make their day, you will feel uplifted for having shared your gratitude.

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