“According to the recent Stress in America 2023 nationwide survey by the American Psychological Association, nearly half of parents surveyed say their stress levels are completely overwhelming on most days. Over four out of 10 parents say their stress levels make them feel numb or are so intense that they can’t function on most days.” (check out the full article HERE)

Sadly, I see the same in my practice. 

This is heart breaking!

Stress is a silent killer yet it doesn’t have to be. 

You are in control of your fight or flight, sympathetic nervous system response. 

There are many things you can do to get yourself into rest, digest and chill, parasympathetic mode.

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A simple way is practicing gratitude daily, not just on holidays like Thanksgiving!

In a study on gratitude letter writing, “parents who wrote either type of gratitude letter tended to experience greater positive emotions immediately, and, in turn, experienced greater well-being—greater positive emotions, empathic emotions, happiness, meaning, autonomy, competence, and connectedness, and fewer negative emotions—one week later.”

The same study showed – the parents “also experienced greater closeness to their child, satisfaction with their parenting, and positive child behaviors, and fewer challenging child behaviors, one week later.” (Quote from Greater Good Magazine – UC Berkley). 

So what does gratitude do for your body physiologically?

It’s been found to put you into parasympathetic chill mode and slow your heart rate. 

It also has been shown to improve heart rate variability (HRV) and improve digestion. 

Now that’s a great 2 for 1 benefit, especially on the universal day of giving thanks!

So with Thanksgiving coming up tomorrow for the United States folks I thought it was appropriate to mention the connection of gratitude to the nervous system.

Think of practicing gratitude as the ultimate way to get your gut into “rest & digest” mode for the tasty food you’re about to eat (or any meal for that matter!).

Perhaps that’s why pre-meal prayers always have a form of gratitude connected to them. 

Either way you look at it – practicing gratitude has some serious benefits for the health of your nervous system. 

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If you’re struggling with feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, anxious or depressed consider spending a few minutes each day writing down a few things, people or situations you’re grateful for in the moment.

The more you practice gratitude, the more you’ll see how the little things add up. 

It’s easy to get caught up in all the negative things going on around you.

You can choose to put your attention to things that bring you joy and relaxation. 

The practice of gratitude can help you re-direct your focus.

Take a few minutes each day to be thankful for all the blessings you have in life and you’ll soon find yourself more relaxed, joyful and happier than ever before!

At first I didn’t believe a simple practice of gratitude could yield such profound effects, boy was I wrong!

Today I’m sending you all my gratitude for allowing me to share a moment in your day with you… through my emails, your kind comments and support.

You are the reason I get up each day excited to write and share my passion for living well for life. 

Thank you for bringing me joy and being part of the “health junkie” community. 

Happy Thanksgiving to all those who are celebrating!

Eternal gratitude,

Dr. J

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