Cringe post alert!
Full Disclaimer: when I first heard about this, (actually, let’s be honest, nearly every time I have heard about this), I cringe from head to toe and think it sounds sickly sweet, influencer in the wellness industry speak. Then I tried some of the below tips and, it turned out they work. So after some embarrassing back pedalling, shuffling my feet and looking awkwardly at the floor, here we are.
New Year is the time for New Year’s Resolutions, which I am not a big fan of btw, why wait to January to start something you believe will be helpful? Start now! But I am a huge fan of new habits.
Why You Should Care About Gratitude
When I talk about lowering stress (which can affect your periods, cycles, moods, PMS, menopause, cardiovascular health, mental health, digestive health and immune system function to name a few things), most people tell me they don’t have time, money or other resources to do any self care or stress busting techniques. You can read more about how stress affects your periods here.
One word that I hear a lot on wellness websites is gratitude and to be honest, I hear it and groan inwardly as it feels over used. However, there are a number of gratitude exercises that are a lot of fun, can be done with your partner, kids, friends or family members as well as solo.
And they have the added bonus of being stress-busting activities too! I have taken time to curate a few of my favourite gratitude exercises. Some of them require regularly writing things down, you can choose a pretty journal or notebook, or coloured paper or a scrapbook. You could even go electronic, depending on what your lifestyle and preferences are. Feel free to unleash your creativity (which is part of your second chakra and helps energy flow in the womb area).
A secondary benefit is of these exercises is that some of them involve reaching out to friends and loved ones. There is some data that says speaking to your girl friends can help to increase progesterone, which can help to reduce signs of oestrogen dominance such as PMS, heavy periods, and bloating. I love it when one thing can lead to multiple benefits.
1. Write A Letter To Someone Who Did Something For You
This can be a great thing to do to say thank you and really re-live that warm glow that you had when you realised this person actually cared for you, enough to make an effort. It also has the added bonus of letting them know how amazing it felt to be cared for and that you appreciated their effort, even if it was only something small.
You could even go one step further and instead of posting the letter or e-mailing it, you could visit them and read it to them in person. When someone thanks us unexpectedly, it can inspire us to give more. What a great gift it would be to encourage this to spread!
I have done this a few times and it has lead to tears, hugs and let people know that their efforts are noticed and appreciated.
2. Make Notes of Nice Things Your Loved Ones Have Done For You
This is a shorter version of the first exercise but instead of writing a letter for one significant event or time, you are aiming a quicker shorter note of every time you appreciated that person, then at the end of the year you can put them all together in a creative way, in a jar, threaded on a string or maybe in a scrap book, to let them know how much they meant to you in each moment.
3. Keep A Gratitude Journal
I found this tough at first, especially when dealing with the demands in life that we all have and it can feel like we have it tough, but this helps put a major reframe on things. Write down three things minimum you are grateful for every day, it can be the same thing. Even if you really don’t feel able to think of much, most of us are able to be grateful for the basics. I found when I thought about it, I am so lucky.
For example, I have a roof over my head, I have food, running water, toilets and electricity. I am really in the minority of the global population who can say that. Kate Northrup has a great way of reframing bills as payment for blessings received. Take a moment to think about it. When you go up to a light switch and flip it, you get light, that is pretty amazing. Or you can go to a tap and access clean water, no 20 mile round trip.
Whilst my gratitude journal started off with some of the basics, mentioned over and over again every day, it soon grew. I am grateful for my friends, family, partner, my tribe, my clients. I am grateful for technology, sunshine, flowers, plants and so many other things in my life, each day’s entry gets bigger and bigger.
But guess what, each time I write it up, my stress levels plummet.
4. Text A Friend Every Morning
This came from a client of mine. Every morning, on her commute to work, she texts 5 friends (not always the same ones), an inspirational quote, wishing them a good day or telling them why they are fabulous friends. Can you imagine how nice it would be to be on the receiving end of that text?
I started doing this and was amazed at how many old friends replied back with “thank you so much, I really needed to hear this”. It has renewed friendships and really helped boost the self esteem and depth of my friends and our friendships.
5. Watch Out For Thank You Moments
Actively look out for moments in which you can say thank you to people, from the bus driver to your family, for even the smallest of things. Even more amazing, have a thank you note set ready to write a quick note.
I worked in a retail/service environment as a teenager and trust me every heartfelt thank you made my day and partially offsets getting yelled at by people who want you to magic product or services out of thin air, use credit cards that are not theirs, I feel every service worker recognises this.
6. The Gratitude Jar
I left this one until last as most people seem to have heard of it already. But basically, whenever anything great, or positive happens in your life, write it down on a piece of paper with the date and put it in a jar. At the end of the year you empty out the jar and have a read through.
I’m sure you have your own practices and ideas on this too which you probably are thinking, but I already do this, just not regularly. So I would love to hear back from you on what you do either for gratitude or gentle stress busting techniques. You can come to the Facebook group and let us know what you do there.