Hospitals are overwhelmed, businesses are struggling to stay afloat, countries are closing their borders, and my daughter is on a “being grateful” kick!
Every time I say something negative, she tries to reframe my attitude by asking, “So what are you grateful for right now?”
She’s right, of course.
While fear is a healthy impulse that pushes many of us to take necessary precautions (like zealously washing our hands or impulsively cleaning surrounding surfaces), we also need ways to keep our collective blood pressure from spiking!
Practicing gratitude doesn’t just have a positive effect on stress levels and our overall health. In addition to promoting psychological wellbeing, some studies have also found that “gratitude interventions” can improve blood pressure levels, heart rate variability, and reduce inflammation.
Just like research on omega-3 and melatonin, gratitude studies don’t always provide consistent results. But given that actions like gratitude journaling are affordable, low risk, and potentially useful, I’m more than willing to give it a try:
I’ve become a regular Martha Stewart in the last week.
1. My doorknobs have never been so shiny and clean!
2. Now that I have nowhere to be in the evenings, home improvement projects have taken on a whole new charm. All of a sudden, finding the missing bookshelf peg adds another level of excitement to life!
3. For once, my husband has allowed my hoarder tendencies to blossom. We are now the proud owners of 28 cans of black beans, 34 packages of quinoa and brown rice, 3 lbs of sweet onions and 2 lbs of garlic!
4. For people of a certain age, technology is awe-inspiring! How wonderful that we can still get together via FaceTime, Skype, or Google Hangouts during times of social distancing.
Last week, I finally learned how to FaceTime with my iPhone, and it’s great to be able to see the expressions of my colleagues and family. Another perk: If they cough or sneeze, I don’t have to worry about wearing a mask or goggles. (Note to self: Check in on Chuck’s cough within the next day or two.)
5. My adult son currently lives with me and Bo. Normally, he likes to “do his own thing” in the evening – and hey, I get it! It can’t be fun hanging out with two old geezers who never stop talking about omega-3s and melatonin.
In the last week though, he has started eating dinner with us again since all the local restaurants have closed! As much as we can get on each other’s nerves from time to time, I’m grateful to have him close by, safe, and eating healthy foods.
6. After putting it off for the last 6 months, I am finally preparing my will. The thought that the end of my life could be lurking around the next elevator button or stairway handrail is a powerful motivator! So I steeled myself and read 30-40 pages of legal writing where my clever lawyer used words like “fiduciary capacity”, “in good faith”, “pursuant to or hereinafter.” I circled all the words and paragraphs I didn’t understand, signed it, got it notarized and sent it back to my lawyer. Whew!
7. I’m grateful for having a legitimate excuse to avoid the gym. Of course, Bo and I are doing our best to get the blood pumping by walking, jump roping, and walking up and down the stairs 10 to 15 times a day. It’s definitely easier to take it easy though when Joe (the big muscleman who usually works out on the neighboring elliptical) isn’t around to peer at my heart rate.
8. I am grateful for having my Omega Passion. It goes so well with my morning coffee, and I’m sure it’s making my microbiome happy too. As my brother would say, the “wee beasties” in my gut seem to be enjoying the oat fiber mixed in with Greek yoghurt, walnuts, dark chocolate and Omega Cure cod liver oil. At least, that is the signal I get when I examine my stools…long, smooth, pleasantly plump…But I digress.
9. I am grateful to walk outside in the early morning, hearing the birds sing and watching the sunlight slowly fill the sky. It’s good to have a routine that’s familiar; a time to let your mind float freely.
10. I am thankful that I don’t have cable TV. It’s scary enough just reading the news on my computer!
11. Most of us don’t spend enough time with our families, but being “locked down” obligates us to stay home. We might not be able to run the kids to soccer practices or ballet lessons, but last Friday, my colleague said that she was looking forward to scrubbing the floorboards of her house together with her kids. There’s something beautiful about that!
During this period of uncertainty and stress, it’s important to make time for gratitude. Whether that’s by writing a daily list of positive things, taking a few minutes to meditate, or brainstorming with a loved one about all the good things that happened in your day, focusing on the positive can do a world of good.
As The Paradox of Our Time reminds us: “Give time to Love, give time to speak, give time to share the precious thoughts in your mind.”