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Why Gratitude Can (and Will!) Break Your Cycle of Stress

Food | Lifestyle

I am sure that you have heard a sentiment similar to this one a thousand times in your life just like I have, and may even write it off as being cliche at this point. That is totally understandable.

Now you may have heard this sentence said in a way that was meant to make you feel badly about complaining. You may have been lectured on how much we have, how rich we really are, how there are people out there starving and dying and we get upset about our iPhone breaking or not being able to get a clear internet connection.

This is true, there is huge suffering in the world and if you live in a modernized society, you are most likely not faced with physical threat on a daily basis. If you are on the computer reading this right now, it is probable that you are not seconds away from ceasing to exist due to lack of nutrition or being tortured.

The Problem: Most Of Us “Feel” Like These Life Threatening Things Are Happening To Us

Let me explain. Your body has one stress response and one stress response only. There are no different chemical reactions for emotional stress, physical stress, mental stress or spiritual stress. Your body reacts in absolutely the same way when faced with a pack of hungry wolves that want to eat you, as it does when you really wanted that promotion and did not get it. It reacts the same way to you almost almost getting in a car accident, as it would if your house were burning down.

This cycle of stress would not exist for us in the same way if we were living out in the wild somewhere. In nature, threats to our survival would be our main source of stress. And those threats would come, be very intense, and then go allowing us to rest and recover.

For most people living in the modern world, threat and stress are perceived on a much more frequent basis. To put it plainly, we have a lot more that can stress us out and push us over the edge these days. Some of the things that stress us, that we are exposed to on a consistent basis are:

  • Work
  • School
  • Childcare
  • Relationships
  • Driving
  • Tests
  • Social pressure
  • Eating/diet

It seems that from the moment we open our eyes in the morning, to the moment we fall asleep at night, we are continually in a position to have something stressful happen to us.

Our Bodies Were Not Designed To Experience Constant Stress

The stress hormones are produced at a risk every time. Adrenaline will give you the boost of energy that you need in order to run from a bear, but it will also cause joint inflammation and damage if it is produced too often. The body has to decide if the risk of long term damage to the body is worth the ability to have super human speed to run away from a threat.

This constant influx of stress-causing situations is not only physically harmful, but mentally harmful as well.

Perceiving stress all the time actually tunes your awareness to look for stressful situations. The reason that your mind does this is to protect you. If you can see a stressful situation coming, you will generally have a better chance of reacting in a way that is life-preserving. Thus with this, you are setting yourself up to see more and more stress, to be more and more stressed, until you get to the point where missing a green light can throw you over the edge.

So to sum up, here is what is going on:

  1. You perceive stress.
  2. Your body reacts to the stress with stress hormones.
  3. Your mind reacts to the stress by developing a heightened awareness for stress.
  4. You start perceiving more and more stress.
  5. Your body becomes run down with the over production of stress hormones.
  6. You feel totally overwhelmed, like everything in your life is stressful and you most likely feel sick.
  7. This causes you stress.

We have a vicious cycle of stress begetting stress. So what do you do when you are in this cycle? How do you get out?

The Answer Is Gratitude

Why does gratitude help? It is because getting yourself to think about and speak out loud all of the things that you are grateful for will change your vibrational state.

You are emitting a vibration at all times. This can actually be measured! When you are in a state of stress, fear, shame, guilt, anger or fear,the vibration that you are emitting will be a low, dense one. This vibration will attract similar low vibrations because like a radio you will be tuned to that low vibrational “station.” You will notice all the other things that align with your low vibration, thus continuing the low vibration within yourself.

When You Actively Step Into Gratitude, You Are Raising Your Own Personal Vibration

You are choosing to change the radio station from stress to things you are happy about. By getting yourself in a state of gratitude, you will be in the vibration of gratitude — a higher, lighter frequency. Not only will it feel better to be here, it will also switch your awareness from all your life stressors to all of the things that are going well, that make you feel good, and connected to abundance.

Remember that the world can be viewed through several different lenses. When you take the time to actively choose to view your life though the lens of gratitude, you will most likely find that you have more and more to be grateful for. Your stress levels will diminish because you will now be perceiving everything that is going well in your life. You will stop the vicious cycle of stress and place yourself in a much lighter, brighter state.

Next time you are feeling overwhelmed, sit with a pen and paper and list at least 10 things you are grateful for. Then sit with each item for a moment. Hold it in your mind and feel what it’s like to have this thing. What does it feel like to be grateful for it? Why are you grateful for it? How does it make you feel to have this item in your life? Do this for every item on your list and see how it transforms your state of being.

We all have things that we can be stressed about, and we all have things to be grateful for. Choose to focus on that which you wish to create more of in your life, and practice the attitude of gratitude at every opportunity.

Featured in New York Magazine, The Guardian, and The Washington Post
Featured in the Huffington Post, USA Today, and VOGUE

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