The Science of Gratitude: Transform Your Life With Moments of Gratitude

The Science of Gratitude: Transform Your Life With Moments of Gratitude

Some links in this article may be affiliate links for which I receive a small compensation. 

I notice it’s easy for me to focus on the negative, the stress, and the frustration of everyday existence. Too often, I must remind myself to find gratitude in small things. It seems trite…but it makes a HUGE difference in my mindset and mental health!

 Emerging research in psychology and neuroscience is shedding light on the transformative power of gratitude and its effects on mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing. From enhancing mood and relationships to improving overall health and resilience, the benefits of cultivating gratitude are backed by science.

 At its core, gratitude is recognizing and appreciating life’s positive aspects, from the big milestones to the small everyday moments. While the concept may seem straightforward, its impact on our lives is profound. Studies have shown that regularly expressing gratitude can lead to significant improvements in mental health, including reduced symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress. By focusing on the things we’re thankful for, we shift our attention away from negative thoughts and emotions, cultivating a more positive and resilient mindset.

One of the key mechanisms through which gratitude exerts its positive effects is by rewiring the brain’s neural pathways associated with happiness and well-being. Research using neuroimaging techniques such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) has shown that practicing gratitude activates regions of the brain associated with reward processing and emotional regulation, such as the prefrontal cortex and the anterior cingulate cortex. These brain changes not only enhance mood and emotional resilience but also promote overall brain health and cognitive function.

The benefits of gratitude extend beyond mental and emotional health—it can also profoundly affect physical health and well-being. Regular gratitude practice encourages lower levels of inflammation, improved heart health, and stronger immune function. By reducing stress and promoting relaxation, gratitude creates an internal environment that supports the body’s natural healing processes, leading to better overall health and vitality.

 Finding simple ways to incorporate gratitude and mindfulness can be a powerful practice.

 The first practice I suggest is keeping a gratitude journal, where you can write down three things you’re thankful for each day. Whether it’s a beautiful sunrise, a kind gesture from a friend, or a moment of laughter with loved ones, taking the time to acknowledge and appreciate the good things in life can profoundly impact your overall well-being.

 Another effective way to cultivate gratitude is through acts of kindness and generosity. By giving back to others and making a positive difference in their lives, we express gratitude for our blessings and create a ripple effect of kindness and compassion in the world around us. Whether volunteering at a local charity, helping a neighbor in need, or simply offering a listening ear to a friend, small acts of kindness can go a long way toward fostering gratitude and connection. Your caregiving role may be exhausting, but finding gratitude for the experience can target burnout and compassion fatigue!

Incorporating gratitude into your daily routine doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming. Simply taking a few moments each day to pause, reflect, and appreciate the good things in life can make a world of difference in your overall well-being.

 The science of gratitude offers compelling evidence for the profound benefits of cultivating thankfulness in our daily lives. From improving mental and emotional health to enhancing social connections and physical wellbeing, gratitude has the power to transform our lives in meaningful and lasting ways. By incorporating simple practices of gratitude into our daily routines, we can harness its transformative power and create a life filled with joy, abundance, and connection.

If you are ready for more support and an actionable plan to truly empower yourself to take back your time, reclaim your energy, and prioritize your self without sacrificing your relationships or adding more to your already full plate, join my Facebook Community, Self-Care & Wellness for Caregiving Women where you will find support, accountability and more FREE resources to help you refocus your attention on your own health and wellness. Some links in this article may include affiliate products for which I make a small commission.  You will never pay more for using this link and may receive a small discount.  

5 MORE Ways to Add Mindfulness into Your Daily Routine

5 MORE Ways to Add Mindfulness into Your Daily Routine

Some links in this article may be affiliate links for which I receive a small compensation. 

Last week, you began to incorporate mindfulness practices into your daily routine. Remember that consistency is key, and variety will keep you interested!

Start small, experiment with different techniques, and find what resonates most with you. Keep a journal…a quick notebook entry… of how you are feeling, what technique you tried, and the result so you can look back and see what worked and what didn’t for you. With time and practice, mindfulness can become a tool in your self-care toolbox…a natural and integral part of your life, guiding you toward greater clarity, presence, and peace of mind.

Here are 5 more practices to add to your toolbox!  I’d love to hear what is working for you in my Facebook Community for caregiving women!

5.Take Mindful Movement Breaks: Incorporate short bursts of mindful movement into your day to release tension and increase energy levels. Whether it’s a few minutes of stretching, a brisk walk around the block, or a gentle yoga flow, moving mindfully can help you reconnect with your body and rejuvenate your mind. Try tightening every muscle in your body for 15 seconds and then releasing them all at once. Your body will sense tremendous stress relief and your mind will follow!

  1. Practice Loving-Kindness Meditation: Spend a few minutes each day practicing loving-kindness meditation, also known as metta meditation. Start by directing loving-kindness towards yourself, then gradually extend it to others—loved ones, acquaintances, and even those you may have difficulty with. This practice cultivates feelings of compassion, empathy, and interconnectedness with all beings.
  2. Create Mindful Moments: Infuse your daily activities with mindfulness by bringing your full attention to the task at hand. Whether you’re washing dishes, walking the dog, or folding laundry, approach each activity with presence and intention. By fully engaging in the present moment, even mundane tasks can become opportunities for mindfulness and self-discovery.
  3. Disconnect to Reconnect: In today’s hyper-connected world, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by constant notifications and digital distractions. Take regular breaks from screens and technology to reconnect with yourself and the world around you. Whether it’s a digital detox day or simply turning off your phone during meals, unplugging can help you reclaim your time and attention.
  4. Wind Down Mindfully: End your day on a peaceful note by incorporating mindfulness into your bedtime routine. Whether it’s a calming cup of herbal tea, a soothing meditation, or a few minutes of gentle stretching, create a relaxing ritual that signals to your body and mind that it’s time to unwind and prepare for restorative sleep.

Remember, mindfulness is not a destination—it’s a lifelong journey of self-discovery and growth. Embrace each moment with curiosity and compassion and watch as mindfulness transforms your life from the inside out.

If you are ready for more support and an actionable plan to truly empower yourself to take back your time, reclaim your energy, and prioritize your self without sacrificing your relationships or adding more to your already full plate, join my Facebook Community, Self-Care & Wellness for Caregiving Women where you will find support, accountability and more FREE resources to help you refocus your attention on your own health and wellness. Some links in this article may include affiliate products for which I make a small commission.  You will never pay more for using this link and may receive a small discount.  

5 Ways for Caregivers to Incorporate Mindfulness into Your Daily Routine

5 Ways for Caregivers to Incorporate Mindfulness into Your Daily Routine

Woman pauses in her day and places her hand to her lips to focus on mindfulness.

Your life as a caregiver is busy and is often bombarded with distractions, deadlines, and to-do lists, leaving little time for self-care and reflection. The needs of others often supersede our own, and we can feel selfish for taking any time whatsoever to meet our own needs. However, amidst the chaos, there lies a powerful tool that can help us navigate life’s challenges with grace and poise: mindfulness. It is a great place to start for someone who feels as though their needs can’t be met without sacrificing something because these techniques can be employed any time, any place, and in any situation to help you feel calmer, more balanced, and in control of your mind, body, and spirit.

Mindfulness is being present in the moment, and engaged with our thoughts, feelings, and surroundings. It’s about cultivating awareness and acceptance, allowing us to respond to life’s ups and downs with clarity and compassion.  At first, mindfulness may seem like snake oil…a silly thing that people say you should do instead of coming up with a “real” solution…but incorporating it into your daily routine is easier…and more effective… than you might think. It can be life-changing in the face of the sacrifices you make as someone who supports other people…and can help in your interactions with those you care for and be something that is intrinsically just for you.

  1. Start Your Day with Intention: Instead of reaching for your phone first thing in the morning, take a few moments to set an intention for the day ahead. Whether it’s gratitude, focus, or compassion, aligning your mindset with a positive intention can help you approach the day with purpose and clarity…and without the negative associations that the news or social media inevitably drop in your lap before your first cup of coffee!
  2. Practice Mindful Breathing: Throughout the day, take several moments to pause and focus on your breath. Notice the rise and fall of your chest, the sensation of air entering and leaving your nostrils. This simple practice can help calm the mind, reduce stress, and bring you back to the present moment. You can even use an app to help or just practice a basic square guided-breathing technique.
  3. Engage Your Senses: Mindfulness isn’t just about mental awareness—it’s also about tuning into the present moment through your senses. Take a moment to notice the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and textures around you. Whether it’s the sun’s warmth on your skin or the aroma of freshly brewed coffee, savoring these sensory experiences can anchor you in the here and now. One of my favorite techniques is to suck on a sour lemon candy if you’re overwhelmed, or squeeze a cold piece of ice in the palm of your hand if you’re feeling anxious. The awareness of that sensation can reset your nervous system from fight or flight!
  4. Practice Gratitude: Cultivate a sense of gratitude by reflecting on the things you’re thankful for each day. Keep a gratitude journal or simply take a few moments before bed to mentally list three things you’re grateful for. Expressing gratitude can shift your perspective from scarcity to abundance, fostering feelings of contentment and joy.
  5. Eat Mindfully: Instead of rushing through meals or mindlessly snacking, practice mindful eating. Take the time to savor each bite, noticing the flavors, textures, and sensations as you chew. Eating mindfully not only enhances your enjoyment of food but also promotes healthier eating habits and digestion.

Keeping your habits simple at the start makes them easier to incorporate into your already busy life.  Choose one or two at a time, try them and see how your body reacts.

If you are ready for more support and an actionable plan to truly empower yourself to take back your time, reclaim your energy, and prioritize your self without sacrificing your relationships or adding more to your already full plate, join my Facebook Community, Self-Care & Wellness for Caregiving Women where you will find support, accountability and more FREE resources to help you refocus your attention on your own health and wellness.

Embracing Wellness as a Supermom – a Guide for Busy Mamas

Embracing Wellness as a Supermom – a Guide for Busy Mamas

Mamas, as we navigate the rewarding yet demanding journey of motherhood, I want to remind you of something crucial – taking care of yourself is as important as taking care of your little ones. I’m here, both as a Family Nurse Practitioner and a mom who’s been through these very challenges, to share a more in-depth guide on how you can integrate wellness into your daily routine.

More often than not, when I share details about health and wellness for women, a mama just like you tells me it’s impossible with their kids!  I know it’s not easy…no change to a routine or schedule ever is…but there are steps that moms can take to reclaim their health while in the trenches of motherhood!

Creating Me-Time

    • Schedule It: Treat your ‘me time’ like any important appointment. Put it on the calendar and stick to it. Whether it’s early in the morning before the kids wake up or during their naptime, find a slot that works for you.
    • Simple Pleasures: It doesn’t have to be elaborate. A warm bath, a few minutes of meditation, or just sitting quietly with a cup of your favorite tea can be incredibly rejuvenating
    • Nutrition – Eating Well for You and Your Family:

    • Meal Planning: Take some time during the weekend to plan your meals. This can reduce stress and ensure you’re eating wholesome meals throughout the week.
    • Healthy Snacking: Keep healthy snacks like fruits, nuts, or yogurt handy. They’re great for you and your kids when hunger strikes unexpectedly.
    • Involve Your Kids: Cooking with your children can be a fun and educational activity. It’s a chance to teach them about nutrition and healthy eating habits.
    • Incorporating Exercise into Your Routine:
    • Family Activities: Make exercise a family activity. Go for a walk, have a dance session, or play a sport together. It’s about movement, not necessarily a structured workout.
    • At-Home Workouts: There are numerous online resources for quick at-home workouts that can be squeezed into your day. Even 10-15 minutes can make a difference.
    • Building a Supportive Community:

    • Connect Digitally: Join online forums or social media groups where you can share experiences and get advice from other moms.
    • Local Mom Groups: If possible, join a local mom’s group. It’s a great way to make friends who are in the same stage of life and understand your challenges.
    • Asking for and Accepting Help:
    • Delegate: Don’t hesitate to delegate tasks to your partner, family, or friends. It’s okay to share the load.
    • Professional Help: If things get overwhelming, consider seeking help from a counselor or therapist. Mental health is a crucial part of your overall well-being.
    • Sleep Strategies for Moms:

    • Embrace Sleep when Baby Sleeps: It’s a common piece of advice because it works. Try to rest or take a nap when your little one does. This might mean letting some household chores wait, but your sleep is a priority.

    • Create a Calming Bedtime Routine for Your Kids: A consistent bedtime routine for your children can help them settle down quicker, allowing you more time to relax and prepare for your own sleep.

    • Seek Help for Nighttime Duties: If possible, alternate nighttime duties with your partner or ask for help from family. Sharing nighttime feedings or comforting can give you a longer stretch of uninterrupted sleep.

    • Limit Caffeine and Stay Hydrated: Especially in the afternoon and evening, limit caffeine and drink plenty of water. Proper hydration can improve your energy levels and overall health.

    • Prepare for Efficient Nighttime Feeds: If you’re nursing, have everything you need for nighttime feeds close at hand to make these disruptions as brief and calm as possible.

    • Use Relaxation Techniques: If you have trouble falling back to sleep after tending to your child, try relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, gentle stretching, or listening to soothing music.

      Remember, mama, prioritizing your wellness isn’t just beneficial for you, but for your entire family. By taking care of yourself, you’re teaching your children the importance of self-care and setting them up for a healthy life. Embrace this journey with kindness towards yourself. You’re doing an incredible job, and taking care of yourself is a key part of that.

  1. If you are ready to make these changes but don’t think you can do it alone, get the support you need in my Facebook Community, Prioritize Yourself: Helping Women Find Balance in Mind, Body, and Spirit. If you’re ready to take the guided steps needed to create a holistic wellness foundation, join me in the Unlock Healing Library for support, education, group coaching and guest experts! Restoring your energy and reclaiming your wellness are NOT easy tasks…but they are so much easier with the right support!
Get to the Root of It: The First Thing You Must Fix

Get to the Root of It: The First Thing You Must Fix

Who has time for that?

I’ll sleep when I’m dead.

I wish I could, but I am so busy at work.

Does this sound like you? Do you spend your entire life playing catch-up? Are you always trying to accomplish a never-ending to-do list, only to collapse into bed feeling further behind? Are you existing on drive-through coffee and anxiety meds to keep up with the world’s demands? You’re exhausted and overwhelmed, and life keeps demanding more of you.

 Caffeine and Chaos

Life is utterly overwhelming with commitments, schedules, activities, and obligations. You are in that season of life where you figure you’ll meet your needs later. The kids need baths, tomorrow you are snack mom, and three work projects need to be done this week. Self-care is a shower with your favorite bath gel and some late-night phone time. I’m guessing you wake up around 3 a.m. every night. Coffee is the only way to jumpstart your exhausted body out of bed, and the kids know not to speak until that precious cup has been consumed. A glass of wine at night is the only way to calm your finely shredded nerves.

 Who Am I, Really?

This level of overwhelm is normalized. We believe this is how we should live: throwing pop tarts in our mouths in the car and wiping the crumbs off as we rush into work. Dinner is made out of a box between school pickup and baseball practice. Communication with our partner…the love of our life…is only expectations and logistics during the weekdays. You feel guilty for snapping at your daughter for not knowing where her backpack is and annoyed with your boss for texting an urgent message as you walked out of the office. The weekend is the only time you can completely zone out. Or catch up on laundry. We feel so overwhelmed, overburdened, and overconnected that we no longer know what we enjoy.

 Live in Alignment

Make time for yourself. Make yourself a priority. The solution sounds so simple. It’s almost laughable. But it’s so important. It’s the most important thing you can do for your own well-being. It is the only way to overcome this overwhelm. And it is the thing I have found after speaking to hundreds of women that we need the most support to do.

The activities we generally associate with self-care and self-love are fun and definitely have a place in life (I’m never going to turn down a pedicure!), but, self-care is a bit more nuanced than that. Self-care is living in alignment with the life you want within the value and belief system you draw from. Respect for your mental, physical, and emotional well-being and setting boundaries and routines are the only ways to find the balance your mind and body so desperately need.

The Best Version of You

Prioritizing yourself does not mean you stop caring for others or abandon all your obligations. It does mean that you begin to adjust your time. Aligning your focus on your life’s vision lets you let things go that no longer serve you. Your happiness, not the fear of someone else’s disappointment, drives you. And in the end, you have a better version of yourself to offer everyone else.

 End the Chaos

The truth is, this cycle of chaotic existence can be changed…it really can. You must be your own biggest fan! Making the choice to become your priority…to truly consider what the life you want to live looks like… creates a balance in your time and connection with the life and the health that you want and need. Only when we can find this balance can we conquer the overwhelm…and the resulting illness…that stems from it!

 Find Balance

This process takes time. It takes baby steps and requires progress without the expectation of perfection. You must become comfortable with being uncomfortable, but the result is a strong foundation for any goal you set for yourself. You know how to adjust your life for what truly matters, and you are prepared to see your goals through…because you know that you have committed to yourself. Once you are committed to balance in your life, your schedule will allow for these goals to be pursued! Ensuring that there is balance in mind, body, and spirit is the new health model we should strive for. The absence of disease is no longer enough to be considered healthy!

Our world is not slowing down (barring another global pandemic!), so we must learn to find the stillness in our lives that brings us peace.

We must claim it.

We must do the work to ensure that we keep it.

We must make ourselves our own priority.

We must overcome overwhelm.

Our health depends on it.