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Effingham Magazine

Gratitude and Visualization

The last time the world experienced a flu pandemic was the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918-1919. Since most of us were not alive to experience this event, you may not feel you have the tools to cope with the current situation. The impact of the unknown combined with isolation can create higher stress and result in anger, anxiety, depression, and/or loneliness. While we hope for the best possible outcome and wait for the next update, I want to share with you two tools I believe can assist in navigating the daily stress of this situation.     Gratitude.  This tool is about taking the time to be aware that no matter the situation we have something to be grateful for. There are many science studies which supports why this is such an important part of improving our mental health. Scans show gratitude stimulates the hypothalamus, the part of the brain that regulates stress and the ventral tegmental area. The ventral tegmental area (VTA) is a structure in the midbrain which sends dopaminergic neural projections to both the limbic and cortical areas.  In addition, there are many studies which indicate that gratitude reframes our state of being and reduces stress and anxiety.

The top five ways to practice gratitude

1- Keep a daily gratitude journal of 3-5 things you are grateful for.

2- When you write your gratitude list focus on the positive and be specific. For example:     instead of I am not ill – Say I am grateful for my healthy body.

3- Write a thank you note - handwritten notes, emails or texts have a positive impact    on the sender and the receiver.

4-Breathe – take time to slow down and take 3 mindful breathes, then be thankful for     the breaths you just took.

5-Write an email to a family member, friend, teacher, coworker expressing your    appreciation for the positive impact they had on your life.

The second tool is visualization.  Visualization acts directly on the brain, altering brainwave activity and biochemistry, and its effects branch out into every aspect of life. There are numerous studies that show how visualization or mental rehearsal boosts confidence, enhances mood, helps the healing process and has a positive effect on performance of cognitive and physical tasks.

5 ways to create visualization practice

1-Choose to visualize something positive you want to achieve.

2- Be specific.

3- Create a mental picture or video-using all your senses: - What will you smell? - How will you look doing this? - Who else will be there? - How will you feel while doing this? - What will you hear? - What will you taste?

4- Write it all down, rewrite it until you can see it happening in mind.

5- Create a daily mental rehearsal until you achieve the specified outcome.



Sharon Hathaway is a Certified Health and Life Coach specializing in weight loss, stress reduction and lifestyle changes. Sharon uses a habit healing method of curated information, empowerment and support to inspire her clients to successfully make lasting changes in their lives. For more information or to schedule an Individual Discover Session or group event visit or email  [email protected]