Posts Tagged ‘gratitude’

By Sue Shekut, MA, Licensed Professional Counselor, Licensed Massage Therapist, Wellness Coach, Owner, Working Well Massage

    One way to better cope with stress is to rely on your social support network, aka friends and supportive community. But what if you don’t have an awesome support network to turn to? You can create one. While that is not as easy as clicking on a book on Amazon and downloading it to your Kindle,  and it will take time, it can be done!

Photo from TShirts by Victoria on https://www.etsy.com/

    1. First off, learn to support, encourage and validate yourself! And then practice self-care, support, encouragement and validation of yourself daily. People that are seeking emotionally healthy friends and peers tend to be drawn to others that have similar attitudes.Keep in mind validation is not affirmation nor cheer leading. (Affirmation and cheer leading can be helpful. However, if we do not also validate ourselves, we may not believe our affirmations and cheer leading and affirmations may actually end up making us feel more anxious if we don’t acknowledge our feelings and thoughts first.)

      Validation is the acceptance of yourself as you are, it involves self talk or recognition that what you are feeling or thinking makes sense and is understandable and logical given your experience in the world.For example, a self validation statement would be, “I am nervous about giving this speech. I haven’t given many speeches before and doing something new can be anxiety provoking.”

      An invalidating self statement might be: “I shouldn’t be nervous about giving this speech. What a loser that I can’t even give a speech without being nervous. Get it together!” Affirmation would be: “I am awesome. I can give  a great speech.” Cheer leading would be “I can do it. C’mon, self, you got this!”

2. Practice gratitude, writing gratitude lists, looking for what you have and appreciating it helps you feel better. Writing gratitude lists and practicing thinking in a grateful mindset helps train your mind to focus on what is positive and working in your life versus training your mind to look for what you do not have or focusing on fears.

Focusing on gratitude is not the same as requiring yourself to always be positive nor is it denial of pain, fear or things that are perceived as negative.

Gratitude allows us to notice that while there may be sadness or loss or fears, there are also things in your life to be grateful for. Thinking of these thinks, counting our blessings and remembering that even when we lose something we still have other things to appreciate helps keep us stable and feeling motivated. And this type of attitude will attract supportive people to you


3. Work with a psychotherapist/counselor to help you learn to be more validating and to connect with other people if you have trouble on your own. Psychotherapists are trained to be validating and encouraging. Telling you to be validating and encouraging of yourself sounds easy, but for many people it is not! It takes retraining, especially if what you learned from people growing up was to be self-critical, judgemental or shaming.

4. Be a joiner! If you have access to any support group, attend meetings and get to know other people in the group. For some people, this means attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, or Alanon meetings or joining a support group for people with loved ones with Alzheimer’s Disorder. It can also mean checking out Meetups.com for people with simple similar interests like hiking, or reading, speaking French or folk dancing. If you belong to a church or religious group, get involved. A great way to meet positive supportive people is to volunteer with a charity that interests you.

E.K  Bernshaw has these tips as well in his post How To Attract Emotionally Healthy People.

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By Sue Shekut, MA, Licensed Professional Counselor, Licensed Massage Therapist, Wellness Coach, Owner,Working Well Massage

Happy Thanksgiving to all our readers, clients, friends, families and to our staff!

Turkey Run State Park. Photo by Sue Shekut.

Turkey Run State Park. Photo by Sue Shekut.

Gratitude is in the name of today’s holiday: Thankfulness is defined by the dictionary as appreciation, gratitude.

According to scientific research, expressing gratitude is actually good for our health! in her article,
7 Scientifically Proven Benefits Of Gratitude That Will Motivate You To Give Thanks Year-Round
in Forbes magazine, Amy Morin, provides us with helpful ways that gratitude improves health.

• Gratitude helps us expand our social support network, important to reduce symptoms of depression, anxiety and give us friend to turn to when we need emotional support.

• Gratitude improves physical and psychological health. People that are thankful tend to take better care of themselves, feel happiness and a sense of well-being.

• Gratitude increases our ability to feel empathy and reduces our tendency to become aggressive.

• Gratitude improves our self-esteem and reduces our tendency to make social comparisons which can leave us feeling less than. When we look at what we have rather than what we don’t have, we tend to feel more satisfied and less envious of what we feel we lack.

• Gratitude improves our resilience helping us heal from trauma and making us more resistant to the negative effects of difficult circumstances in the future.

I am grateful to be able to provide hundreds if not thousands of massages for the past 16 years at Working Well Massage, grateful to have such wonderful clients and team members and relationships with partners such as Whole Foods Market and River North Wellness Center and grateful to be able to blog about it!

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CORONADO, Calif. (Nov. 22, 2007) Storekeeper 1...
CORONADO, Calif. Storekeeper 1st Class Andy Zhang enjoys Thanksgiving dinner with his son. Image via Wikipedia

By Sue Shekut, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

Thanksgiving is traditionally a time to give thanks and count our blessings. It can also be a time to overeat and overindulge. Here a few tips to help keep you from feeling like you lost control of your healthy eating habits on this feastful holiday:

1. Eat small portions of each food item you want to sample.

2. Don’t deprive yourself of dessert or you may overeat something else. If you want a slice of  pie, have one. Just cut a half  a slice, let that digest an hour or so before you think about having more!

3. Make sure you drink plenty of water. Dehydration can make you want to consume more food. And drinking water fills your stomach so you don’t have as much room for food.

4. If you drink alcohol, remember it is dehydrating. Trade off between one glass of water for every beer or glass of wine (or mixed drink if you are hitting harder stuff.)

5. Remember that this holiday is really about spending time with friends and family. Focus on the social interactions and the food becomes less of an issue.

6. If you are struggling with overeating or overindulging, do the dishes! It helps out the hostess/host and gives you something to do with your hands besides munch!

A Heartfelt Thank You

And thank you for reading my blog. It’s been a great year for Working Well Massage, am exceptionally happy year for me and a wonderful year for the many people in my life that have benefited from massage therapy, wellness coaching, personal training, better ergonomics, outdoor exercising, and good nutrition! I am grateful to have the opportunity to meet so many interesting and positively motivated people as I travel around and find interesting stories for  my blog. It’s the people I meet and work with that make my life interesting and fulfilling. A heartfelt thank you to all of you I’ve come in contact with this year, on the blog and in real life!

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30 Days of Gratitude- Day 1
Image by aussiegall via Flickr

By Sue Shekut, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

Remember the old adage, to “count your blessings” as  a tool to feel better about your self and your life? Did you know that maintaining an actively grateful personality can actually provide stress relief?

Robert Emmons at the University of California, Davis and Michael E. McCullough from the University of Miami have maintained a study that attempts to help its participants develop methods to cultivate gratitude in daily life and assess that gratitude’s effect on well-being. They say of the project:

“Gratitude is the “forgotten factor” in happiness research.  We are engaged in a long-term research project designed to create and disseminate a large body of novel scientific data on the nature of gratitude, its causes, and its potential consequences for human health and well-being. Scientists are latecomers to the concept of gratitude.  Religions and philosophies have long embraced gratitude as an indispensable manifestation of virtue, and an integral component of health, wholeness, and well-being.  Through conducting highly focused, cutting-edge studies on the nature of gratitude, its causes, and its consequences, we hope to shed important scientific light on this important concept.”

In the research, the scientists had all participants keep diaries of their lives. One of the groups was instructed to specifically look for the positive things that had happened to them that day, and one was instructed to keep a diary as they normally might. Emmons and McCullough discovered that their participants showed a clear correlation between those who kept a “gratitude journal” and a number of positive factors, including exercising regularly, reporting fewer physical symptoms, feeling better about their lives as a whole, and feeling more optimistic about the upcoming week compared to those who recorded hassles or neutral life events.  Participants who kept gratitude lists were more likely to have made progress toward important personal goals (academic, interpersonal and health-based) over a two-month period compared to subjects in the other experimental conditions.

Not convinced? They also reported that a daily gratitude intervention (self-guided exercises) with young adults resulted in higher reported levels of the positive states of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, attentiveness and energy compared to a focus on hassles or a downward social comparison (ways in which participants thought they were better off than others).

Elizabeth Scott, M.S., About.com’s Stress Management Guide, reminds us that “although we are born with specific tempermental tendencies, the brain is a muscle, and you can strengthen your mind’s natural tendency toward optimism if you work at it.”

Scott offers some helpful suggestions for how to encourage gratitude in your own life:

  • Make Gentle Reminders – When you notice yourself beginning to feel negative, try to think of 4 or 5 related things for which you are grateful.
  • Be Careful With Comparisons – Focus on yourself, and stop comparing what you have and do to other people.
  • Keep a Gratitude Journal – Make it a habit to remind yourself of good things that happen to you every day.

Sue’s Gratitude List

I notice that when I am more consciously grateful of all the good things I have in my life: my family, my friends, my work, my clients, my health, my ability to travel and hike and see wonderful natural beauty as well as the Internet and all the “Dick Tracy” gizmo’s we now have to entertain and communicate, I have much better days and a happier demeaner!

I am grateful you are reading my blog!  Start your own gratitude list today and see how you feel. Just list 10 things you are grateful for. Share them with us in the comments if you feel inspired!

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