10 Easy Ways To Practice Gratitude As A Nurse Coach
“Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.”
– Dalai Lama XIV
As a nurse, we have a million and one things to be stressed about. Often we nurses are responsible for keeping our patients alive, well, and happy.
And, as we’ve seen parts of humanity that most people can’t even fathom – we also know there’s a lot to be grateful for.
Still, we don’t learn how to practice gratitude in nursing school.
As Nurse Coaches, we know that practicing gratitude is an important part of designing a happier, healthier life. So let’s take a deeper look at why it’s so important to practice gratitude as a Nurse.
When we think about gratitude, the first thing that comes to mind is often this simple phrase:
We say this to someone when they have been kind to us, helped us, or given us a gift.
But gratitude is so much more than just a simple phrase we say.
It is a positive emotion and a deep appreciation which is powerful enough to effect your health, your happiness, and your wellbeing.
Now, this is not the first article we’ve written about gratitude, and it definitely won’t be the last.
And here’s why – at The Nurse Coach Collective we truly believe that gratitude has the ability to transform your life.
When you practice gratitude as a nurse, you can increase your physical health, your mental health, and your overall outlook on life.
Gratitude has been extensively studied for decades, and researchers have been able to explore its effects from numerous different angles.
Greater Physical Health
As the backbone of the medical system, we nurses are always dedicated to increasing the health of those we work with.
As part of the Nurse Coach movement, we are now starting to increase the awareness of nurses becoming empowered to improve our own health as well.
What if I told you, that when you practicing gratitude as a nurse, you are also increasing your physical health?
See, studies have demonstrated that practicing gratitude is associated with healthier activities and lifestyle choices, and even an increased willingness to seek help for existing health concerns.
Greater Psychological Health
Now, nurses are familiar with stress, high pressure situations, and often emotionally challening and draining situations.
When you practice gratitude as a nurse, you can combat these symptoms, too.
Psychologically, gratitude has been proven to decrease depressive symptoms, stress, and anxiety while increasing happiness and positive emotions.
Gratitude has been linked to stronger connections, increased forgiveness, and better relationships.
And, practicing gratitude as a nurse leads to less loneliness and subsequently better physical and psychological health.
Sounds pretty good right?
So, if you’ve ever wanted to increase your health, happiness, and overall wellbeing…
Here’s some great news: Gratitude can be practiced.
Here are 10 easy ways to practice gratitude as a nurse and live a happier, healthier life.
#1. When You First Wake Up
The alarm clock sounds. You roll over, grunt, and hit the snooze button! Sound familiar?
Often the very first thought we have each morning is negative: “I don’t want to get up,” “Not another day of work,” “I’m too tired to get up!”
What if you could change this?
What if everyday you could wake up and the very first thing you think to yourself or say out loud is something that you are grateful for?
Practicing gratitude as a nurse at the beginning of each day creates a positive mentality upon which the rest of your day can build.
“Every day, try thinking of this as you wake up: Today I am fortunate to have woken up. I am alive. I have a precious human life. I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others, to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings. I am going to have kind thoughts towards others, I am not going to get angry, or think badly about others. I am going to benefit others as much as I can.”
– Dalai Lama
#2. Deep Breathing
This one is great for nurses, because even on our busiest days, there is always time to take a deep breath.
Taking a few, slow deep breaths is a wonderful way to reconnect with a sense of gratitude for your life source – your breath.
The best part? You can do this literally any time.
So breathe in deeply as you practice appreciation from something in particular, or for your life itself.
This is a great way to boost your mood and decrease stress and anxiety.
“Breath is the finest gift of nature. Be grateful for this wonderful gift.”
– Amit Ray
#3. When you Complain… Fight Back with Gratitude
As much as I’d love to say that nurses never complain, we all know that aint true.
Inevitably, we all complain.
Sometimes complaining can serve a purpose and can feel cathartic.
But more often then not, complaining puts us into a negative emotional place where we are focused on the bad, rather than to good.
When you hear your self complain, fight back by taking a moment to think of or say something that you are grateful for.
“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorns have roses.”
– Alphonse Karr
#4. When Anger and Fear Try to Hold You Back
When we get angry, we often get stuck inside of this ruminative emotion.
And fear is often the largest obstacle that stands in our way and holds us back from taking action.
So, what do these two emotions have to do with gratitude?
Which is why Tony Robins says: “You can’t be angry and grateful simultaneously [and] you can’t be fearful and grateful simultaneously.”
By choosing to practice, experience, and express gratitude, you are able to combat these emotions and move forward in a positive, empowered way.
“Gratitude is the antidote to the two things that stop us: Anger and fear.”
– Tony Robbins
#5. Before Your Meals
Too often we fall into the habit of eating mindlessly.
We shovel food into our mouths, swallow before we have a chance to appreciate the taste, and serve ourselves a second helping without giving our body a chance to digest.
What if you slowed down?
When you take a moment to slow down, before you even start your meal, you allow your body to enter into its natural state of ‘rest and digest,’ which is its optimal state of digestion.
When you slow down, you are able to truly appreciate what you are putting into your body, and the energy and resources that went into creating the meal in front of you.
This practice allows you to make better choices – after all, if you are not thankful to be eating something, it’s a great indication that you might want to reconsider your food choices.
Finally, practicing gratitude as a nurse before your meals allows you to truly and deeply appreciate that you are choosing the foods and nutrients that will become a part of you, your body, your source of energy and your existence.
“This food is the gift of the whole universe – the earth, the sky, and much hard work. May we live in a way that makes us worthy to receive it. May we transform our unskillful states of mind, especially our greed. May we take only foods that nourish and prevent illness. We accept this food so that we may realize the path of our practice.”
– Thich Nhat Hanh’s Meal Chant
#6. Take a Walk to Appreciate Your Surroundings
When we are able to celebrate the world around us and take in the beauty of the world we live in, the rest of our worries seem to naturally slip away.
As you become mindful to the wind in the leaves and the roots which grow underneath the ground, you are able to appreciate nature, existence, and life in an entirely new way.
So, stop and smell the flowers.
Take a moment to look up at the passing clouds.
Feel the sunshine on your face, or the raindrops on your nose.
Enjoy the fresh air, and your place within this vast universe.
“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.”
– John Muir
#7. Who Can You Appreciate Today?
Too often we wait until we have a good reason to show someone our appreciation.
Gratitude itself is all the reason you need.
So ask yourself this:
Who can I appreciate today?
Write them a letter, tell them you are grateful for them, or simply send them energetic gratitude with your thoughts.
“Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”
– Marcel Proust
#8. Show love, compassion, and gratitude to others
Gratitude is often rooted in love and compassion.
There is never a need to wait for the perfect moment to express it.
Practicing gratitude as a nurse is an opportunity to seek new avenues to share your love, compassion, and kindness with others – family, friends, and strangers alike.
“When we feel love and kindness toward others, it not only makes others feel loved and cared for, but it helps us also to develop inner happiness and peace.”
― Dalai Lama XIV
#9. What Can You Thank Yourself For?
We often think of all of our external sources of gratitude – I am thankful for the food on my plate, the roof over my head, the people in my life… and so on.
Are these valuable recipients of your gratitude?
And appreciating yourself is also greatly important.
Turning your gratitude inwards can be a more challenging practice, but is incredibly rewarding and powerful experience.
You might ask yourself:
What do I love about myself? What do I appreciate most about myself? What do I want to honor myself for, right now, in this moment?
“When we develop a right attitude of compassion and gratitude, we take a giant step towards solving our personal and international problems.”
– Dalai Lama XIV
#10. Bedtime gratitude
There is perhaps no better time to reflect on gratitude as a nurse than at the end of each and every day, as you prepare yourself for sleep.
Whether you keep a gratitude journal, think or recite a few appreciative thoughts, or practice any other bedtime gratitude ritual – this is a great way to reflect on your day in positive way, get a better night sleep, and awake with a positive outlook.
“Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.”
– Eckhart Tolle
At The Nurse Coach Collective, these are some of the gratitude practices that we try to incorporate into our lives on a daily basis.
Nurses, try these out and let me know what you think in the comments below!
And Nurse Coaches, remember that these techniques can be used in your own life, and as techniques to incorporate into your work with clients, as well!
THANK YOU for reading!
Hill, Patrick L., Mathias Allemand, and Brent W. Roberts. “Examining the pathways between gratitude and self-rated physical health across adulthood.” Personality and individual differences 54.1 (2013): 92-96.