If you’ve been around these parts for long, you’ve probably heard me mention the uber-importance of shifting your body into its parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS) response or state as often as possible.
Why? Because when your typically-stressed-out-exhausted-body dips into the PSNS state, A LOT of good, good things happen.
~ stress hormone levels decrease and are replaced with feel-good hormones like acetylcholine, prolactin, and oxytocin
~ your digestive system is able to be more fully online which means your metabolism and nutrient absorption are enhanced
~ blood pressure is lowered as vessels widen
~ your brain is better at processing and storing memories
~ the quality of your sleep is improved
That list should inspire you to want to spend as much time in the parasympathetic nervous system response. I know it makes me want to find all. the. ways. to activate - and stay in - my own PSNS!
Turns out there are A LOT of ways to find that state of *rest and digest* for yourself - a quick Google search returns almost 700,000 results - so you’ve got a lot of ideas to experiment with to find what works for you! (Everything from spending time in nature to getting a massage to simple deep breathing to cold water facials, etc.)
Today, let’s look at how the practice of gratitude can spark that all-important PSNS.
Regularly practicing gratitude has a TON of benefits, according to science. Gratitude researcher, Robert Emmons, PhD, found that gratitude activates the parasympathetic nervous system and “can lower blood pressure, improve immune function and facilitate more efficient sleep. Gratitude reduces lifetime risk for depression, anxiety…[and] blocks toxic emotions, such as envy, resentment, regret and depression, which can destroy our happiness. It’s impossible to feel envious and grateful at the same time.”
So, if you don’t already have a gratitude practice, you can see why it’s an important - and powerful - choice to make for your health and wellbeing.
Here are a few ways to cultivate that attitude of gratitude:
~ Keep a gratitude journal (virtual or literal) and make a point to record at least one thing you’re thankful for each day. (Three to five things listed makes for an even more powerful practice.)
~ Use the alphabet as inspiration if you ever feel stuck - A = art, B = your bed, C = cake...you get the idea.
~ Read or watch something inspiring.
~ Take a stroll and think about all the ways nature treats you through the seasons.
~ Think about the simple things in life that you might typically take for granted...your home, the food in your fridge and cupboards, a cozy sweater on a chilly day.
~ Find a Gratitude Partner and agree to share your daily list with each other, either via text or even face-to-face over coffee.
I know one thing I’m grateful for right now and that’s YOU! Having you visit this space means so much!
Here’s to chilling out with gratitude!
Till next time, be nourished.