July 22, 2020

How to Rest our Overworked Minds & Find Gratitude (even on the Sh*tty Days).


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No disrespect to the many who are suffering right now, but it is time for us to stop spinning in fear and worry and take a minute to find our feet.

It is easy to dismiss the phrase “Oh, just be grateful for what you have” as a silly panacea that does nothing to make the world better. We’re all standing around, not holding hands, singing Kumbaya with our face masks in place, right?

Hang on a second—give me just a minute. 

Google the “transformative power of gratitude” and you will find that when we pause and bring our overworked minds to sensation—noticing the pressure of the feet on the floor, noticing our breath travel through the body, sighing out an exhale—we literally can’t think about our fears and worries at the same time. Try it. 

Gratitude is my superpower.

Think about whatever is on your worry radar right now. Pick one thing, now bring your brain awareness—your inner eye —to your feet’s sensation on the floor. Really feel your feet, no judgment, stories, or reactions; just let your mind rest on your feet fully—the toes, ball, and heel. Try it, and I will be right here when you get back.

If you were able to be with the sensation of pressure on the floor entirely, your thinking mind was taking a rest. It might’ve been just a nanosecond, but it was rest, and that is exactly what our overworked minds need. Rest.

Even just doing that is terrific for a nervous system’s health, but I can kick it up a notch at the moment I am noticing my feet, by bringing to mind something in the last day or two that I am really grateful for. 

It can be as simple as remembering the coffee my sweet hubby brought me and bringing the same curious, open, non-judgy, non-storytelling mind to that moment. Really trying to remember the feelings around that moment, maybe even visualizing it, if I can. Seeing my husband’s smiling eyes, the warm cup in my hand, that first whiff of coffee, chocolate, and cinnamon. (Yes, my morning latte is the bomb.) 

Then, bringing my awareness back to my feet’s pressure on the floor, feeling gratitude for that moment, my nervous system is getting a double-pump of serotonin and dopamine. It is not only resting but feeling happy and healthy too. 

Dr. Randy Kamen writes, 

“Research shows that recording experiences for which one is grateful for only two consecutive weeks can have lasting positive effects sustained for up to six months.” 

My brain will go back to doing what my brain does, but if I can find small moments throughout my day to feel, notice, remember with gratitude and breathe; I am building resilience and health, one moment at a time.

Maybe try this nervous system hack for yourself. 

You have the tools, no fancy app needed. Just breathe, notice your feet, remember something you are grateful for—really feel it. 

Take a breath or two if you can, and notice how your nervous system is feeling. 

Maybe we can’t solve all the world’s problems, but we can get a clearer, possibly healthier brain, heart, and body just by noticing our feet—getting them pointed in the right direction.

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