With Thanksgiving just around the corner, it seems like a good time to talk about gratitude. We've heard a lot in recent years about the importance of focusing every day on the things for which we're grateful. Gratitude journals have become popular in part thanks to Oprah Winfrey.
While some people may scoff at the idea, researchers have found that people who spend time focusing on the things they have to be grateful for not only feel more optimistic and positive about their lives, but also tend to be physically healthier than those who don't. This includes things like lower blood pressure and better heart rates.
There are physiological reasons for this linked to the way that our bodies and brains work. When people are happy (as well as when they exercise), they produce more endorphins. These neurotransmitters actually reduce pain and generally make us feel better.
If you haven't been practicing listing the things for which you're grateful on a daily basis, a divorce may seem like the worst possible time to begin doing it. However, it's during difficult times like this that we most need to focus on the things for which we're thankful.
If you're going through the break-up of a marriage, it's easy to get mired in depression over the relationship that ended, being on your own, financial challenges and being at least a part-time single parent. However, by committing to writing down at least a few things every day for which you're grateful in this new life upon which you're embarking, you'll begin to see what makes you happy and begin focusing more time and energy on doing those things. It could include spending a night in watching a movie with your kids, going out with your friends or just staying home and reading a book.
Remembering the things that you still have that you're thankful for as well as the things you've gained as a newly-single person won't make all the pain of a divorce go away. However, it can help you and your children go through it with a more positive outlook about the future.
Source: Huffington Post, "Practicing Gratitude During Divorce," Wendi Schuller, Divorce Magazine, Oct. 26, 2015