Today’s post comes from the fantastic Audrey Vanim. I had the luck to run into her at a Propelle acupuncture session a few weeks ago where we got to talking about blogging and the Dolce Vita Fall Reset challenge she was organizing. I’ve been shifting my mindset around the challenges in the fall reset and it’s been awesome, so I asked Audrey to share her best tips for infusing a little Dolce Vita into your life this season.
Ah, Thanksgiving—one of my favorite holidays to stuff my belly full of good food, spend time with friends and family, and relax into a tryptophan haze. But it’s also one of my favorite holidays because it’s a whole day devoted to giving thanks—the practice of gratitude.
You might be thinking, why is this girl so excited about practicing gratitude? The short answer would be because it relaxes my brain, energizes my body, and makes my life magical. The long answer starts with a story about Italy.
About 2 years ago, I went on a family trip to Italy during a time when I was really burned out in my life—I hated my job, was out of shape, had constant brain fog, was exhausted all the time, and felt completely stuck in my life.
So when I got to Italy, one of the first things I noticed was just how energetic, upbeat, and relaxed the Italians were. They were healthy, happy, and living a lifestyle that was exactly what I had been craving for myself. I wanted to know the secret to their dolce vita.
What I found was that a big part of la dolce vita is practicing gratitude.
Practicing gratitude has become a bit of a fad in recent years—even Oprah’s doing it. But beyond the hooplah, gratitude practices have some really solid evidence (I am a nurse, after all) behind them for boosting your health and your energy by helping you refocus your mind and decrease stress.
Gratitude has been shown to be one of the most powerful ways to shift your mind from negativity to positivity—from stress and fear to relaxation and love. Studies show that women who use defeatist coping strategies—like restraint, denial, disengagement—have higher levels of cortisol (the stress hormone), more anxiety, depression, and higher levels of stress. Consistent gratitude practices have been shown to increase energy, decrease stress levels, decrease depression, and lead to healthier lifestyle choices like exercising more regularly and eating healthier foods.
The Italians already know how powerful gratitude is for creating a healthy and happy life. They have an amazing way of infusing gratitude into everyday life—they accentuate the positive in conversations, take pleasure in small things, and always find a reason to celebrate. No matter how tough life might be, they pause and say a heartfelt “grazie!” for even the smallest of joys—a glass of wine, a child’s smile, or dinner with a friend.
They live la dolce vita because they make an effort to recognize and accentuate how sweet life truly is.
So do yourself a favor this week and take some time to really give thanks. Here are some ways to make gratitude an easy and powerful practice for you too:
Frame your day with gratitude.
Keep a journal by your bed. When you wake up, take a deep breath and write down 3 things that you are grateful for. For each item, pause and really feel the gratitude. Take another deep breath and then start your day. Do the same thing just before you’re ready to go to bed. This is a great way to start your day off with energy and positivity and end your day feeling relaxed and joyful.
Take a gratitude break!
So many of us take a coffee or snack break at work to decrease stress. But what if we took a gratitude break? Set an alarm or reminder on your phone to go off several times per day. When you see this alarm, it’s time to pause and feel gratitude. Doing this throughout the day will keep your stress levels continuously low, your mind focused and positive, and your body a whole lot lighter.
Use gratitude as a tool to turn any situation around.
When you find yourself stuck, disappointed, unhappy, or stressed, take a moment to pause and find one thing either in that situation or in your life to be grateful for. It’s amazing how quickly this can help your brain switch from a stressed and negative mindset to one that sees positivity and opportunity. When you find something to appreciate in any situation, it redirects you to the positive and helps you to remove yourself from the anxiety.
I have to say that practicing gratitude is one of the most powerful things I’ve ever done in my life—it’s helped me to become more energized, positive, and joyful.
So this Thanksgiving, get a jump-start on creating your own dolce vita by practicing gratitude—it might just become your favorite part of the holiday, too.
How are you doing to bring Dolce Vita and gratitude into your life this week?