By Alexa Fishback, our Greenwich Moms nutrition and health content contributor. Alexa, along with her partner, Hala Si-Ahmed, is the Co-Founder of AaHa Restart and has been running week-long clean eating Teams for over 10 years, all while raising her 4 kids!
What better time than Thanksgiving to begin a Gratitude Practice? Feeling grateful is consistently associated with better mental and physical health and greater levels of happiness – it should be viewed as a pillar of wellness. You can enjoy the benefits of a gratitude practice throughout the year, not just along with turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce.
Back in 2012, a smart friend recommended The Magic by Rhonda Byrne, (who also wrote The Secret). At the time I was skeptical but decided to give it a try because of her recommendation. Ten years later the teachings of this book have stayed with me. In particular, I learned “to count my blessings” each day. This deliberate practice has changed my life in a very magical way. If you don’t already have a gratitude practice – here are a few tips to help you develop one now:
Be intentional every morning. When you wake up – say “thank you for this new day” aloud. Then, at some point during your morning routine, recite your “gratefuls” aloud to yourself or in your head. Develop a list of 10 things you want to recognize on a daily basis (your health, your home, your family, your friends, whatever resonates with you) and say thank you for each one every day. On top of these regular gratefuls, I like to acknowledge a handful of things, even small ones, specific to that day (5-year-old daughter dresses herself without a fuss, husband brings a hot coffee to wake me up). I tend to practice my gratefuls when I do yoga early in the morning – when holding a particularly long or hard pose, I methodically go through my lists and they help me stay in the moment. You can also light a candle and sip your morning coffee, tea, or lemon water and consciously think about your gratefuls for a few minutes.
Find a practice beyond yourself. Find a yoga or meditation practice with a guide you connect with. Both Peloton and YouTube have guided meditations specific to gratitude. In Greenwich, Danit Schreiber runs an amazing independent yoga studio and also leads guided meditation sessions – both of these will leave you feeling centered and refreshed.
Sunday Night Dinner:
Practice gratitude with your family. We make dinner time extra meaningful on Sunday nights by going around the table and saying what we feel grateful for. My kids are 5, 11, 12 and 14 and there are of course a range of answers. But just spending a minute to think about something that was great in that day or week – a pickup game of basketball at the YMCA, a spontaneous trip to NYC with friends, or a snuggle with our pets – can go a long way. Teach your kids to recognize special moments and appreciate special people. They will reap the benefits of gratitude and all the good juju that comes with it too.
While at first this practice may take some effort, don’t be surprised if soon you find it a welcome part of your day. And not just the intentional practice. Life will present many random opportunities for gratitude. Church bells used to call people together to worship so when I hear them I remember to say thank you for the moment. Noticing a full moon is a great time to set an intention for a grateful heart. When you are trying to sleep at night, you can go through gratefuls A-Z. And when you feel panicky or stressed – try to re-center your mind and think instead about what is going well.
As you sit down for Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday the 24th – whether it is your favorite holiday or mass chaos – take a deep breath and set your intentions to feel grateful. Enjoy a full belly and a full heart.