Did you know that people who have a regular practice of gratitude have less cortisol in their systems? Cortisol is a very important hormone that is secreted by our adrenal glands , located above the kidneys.  Cortisol plays a vital role in a number of things your body does. For example, it:

  • Manages how your body uses carbohydrates, fats, and proteins
  • Keeps inflammation down
  • Regulates your blood pressure
  • Increases your blood sugar (glucose)
  • Controls your sleep/wake cycle
  • Boosts energy so you can handle stress and restores balance afterward

However, it is also a neuro toxin to the brain and can become a barrier to good health when we have too much of it for too long. For example, it helps facilitate a shut down in the immune system, digestive system and reproductive system when it is trying to attend to stressful situations. This has huge implications for weight loss, fertility issues and fighting off disease.  Chronic stress is the number one reason for cortisol imbalance!

An intentional practice of gratitude can help immensely.  Here are some ideas that might help you get started:

  1. Keep a gratitude journal next to your bed a jot down 2-3 things for which you are grateful before going to bed or when you awake.
  2. Ask everyone at the dinner table to express one thing for which they are grateful before eating your meal.
  3. When you catch yourself in negative self talk because of circumstances in your life, gently remind yourself of the good things that are also present. You wouldn’t know what was hard or challenging if you did not have good things with which to compare it!
  4. Meditate or pray with a sense of thankfulness. Even when life feels overwhelming and unfair, look for at least one thing that remains stable or positive in your life. 

Being grateful is not that same as being in denial. We can learn to acknowledge the hard things while being thankful at the same time! Life is much more “Both- And” rather than “Either- Or.”