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Healthy Lifestyle

Creating a Gratitude Practice

Gratitude 1We are often told about the benefits of practicing gratitude. With study after study showing the impact that gratitude has on both physical and emotional wellbeing, implementing a gratitude practice could be in our best interest. 

While practicing gratitude has many benefits, at times it can feel like we are just being asked to “look on the bright side”. In truth, gratitude must be held in tension with the reality of life. It is crucial to lean into moments of both gratefulness and suffering. 

This week we will look at the importance of gratitude and how to cultivate it. But stay tuned, next week we will explore authentic gratitude in difficult seasons. 

(Special Note: If you are in a difficult season and the thought of starting a gratitude practice makes you want to scream, you may want to read next weeks blog first! You can always come back for the details on the benefits of gratitude and how to start a gratitude practice after considering how to honor your suffering in the process.)


The Benefits of Gratitude

Feelings of gratitude are good for our brains, activating the hypothalamus and flooding our brains with the feel-good hormone dopamine. Some studies have found it to decrease the prominent stress hormone cortisol and blood pressure, while increasing heart rate variability.

Robert Emmons, the world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude, found that people who consistently practice gratitude report many physical, psychological and social benefits such as:


  • Stronger immune systems
  • Less bothered by aches and pains
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Exercise more and take better care of their health
  • Sleep longer and feel more refreshed upon waking


  • Higher levels of positive emotions
  • More alert, alive, and awake
  • More joy and pleasure
  • More optimism and happiness


  • More helpful, generous, and compassionate
  • More forgiving
  • More outgoing
  • Feel less lonely and isolated.


Brene Brown On Joy & Gratitude

Researcher Brene Brown has stated that “there is no joy without gratitude”. Listen as she discusses what her research taught her about the importance of establishing a gratitude practice. (Hint: she expected to find that joy led to gratitude, but found it was the other way around!)



How to Cultivate a Gratitude Practice

There are many things that you can do to create a practice of gratitude. The key is to establish habits that help you focus on something you are thankful for on a regular basis. It is important that these habits feel both fresh and authentic. 

While it may not feel natural at first, it’s important to focus on being genuine. This means being completely honest with ourselves. We get more benefit from focusing on small things we are truly thankful for than from pretending we are grateful for larger things that we think we should be thankful for.

We receive the most benefit from practices that are fresh and have not grown mundane. If we start to feel like we are doing our gratitude practice to check it off our to-do-list, it may be time to switch up our gratitude practice. And with so many ways to explore gratitude, there is no reason to get stuck in a rut. 

  • Create a gratitude journal.
  • Write thank you cards or letters of affirmation to people in your life.
  • Meditate on things you are grateful for each morning for 5 minutes.
  • Help someone that doesn’t have all the advantages that you do.
  • Find something to look forward to each week.
  • Think about someone who has influenced your life and write them a letter.
  • Pray to express thankfulness for the good things in your life.
  • Choose one word that brings up feelings of gratitude (hope, life, family, friends, health, etc.) each day. Write the word down and think about it throughout the day.
  • Listen to a song you enjoy and take time to really appreciate it.
  • Practice mindful eating to really appreciate the gift of food.
  • For more ideas check out 40 Simple Ways To Practice Gratitude.


If you are ready to jump into a gratitude practice that it great! But if you are in a difficult season and can’t imagine how to develop such a practice, be kind to yourself this week. Next week we will look at how to be open to gratefulness in authentic ways during difficult seasons!


Dr. Jamie

Back To School

back to school 2019A recent survey found that 74 percent of mothers are already looking forward to their kids going back to school less than a month into the summer break. While these moms love their kids, the summer can be an overwhelming time, making the school bus a welcome sight. But going back to school can also be stressful for parents! 

It’s a lot of work to make sure that the kids have everything they need to start the year off right. The links below are some resources that can help your family during this exciting, but often stressful time of year. 

A Proper Fitting Backpack

Boosting Your Child’s Immune System

Healthy School Lunches

Creating a Routine

Ordering School Supplies

  • Target's School List Assist - Get all your kids school supplies without any hassle. Simply choose if you want your items delivered to your home or picked up at the store, enter the child’s class information (school and grade), and the supply list will be put in your online shopping cart. (You can remove any items you already have.)


I hope this is a great year for you and your family! 

Dr. Jamie

Getting Back Into Physical Activity

Getting back Into Physical ActivityThis summer has been an extremely busy time for my family. While we have routines in place to keep us on track nutritionally, physical activity has been a different story! Other than the occasional walk, I am not getting much physical activity. 

I know how important it is to get enough exercise and speak with my patients about it regularly. But the struggle is real, and my lifestyle is not reflecting my values in this area.

As I reflect on ways to change this in my own life, I thought I would invite you into the process with me. Here are some ideas that we can use to make exercise a reality in our lives.  

Clarifying Our Motivation

Sure we all know that being active is “important for our health,” but what is your true motivation for putting in the effort? What is it that you want to accomplish by being more active? Would you like to be able to keep up with your friends when they go hiking? Are you a competitive person who wants to be able to race? Do you simply desire to avoid the chronic pain that “runs in your family”?

Read more ...

The Gift of Solitude

solitudeThroughout history, opportunities for solitude were built into a person’s daily life. There were no cell phones to look at while waiting for appointments or social media accounts to keep connected with friends when they were home alone. Solitude was often a person’s default mode. 

In our ultra-connected society, this is no longer the case. Modern technology gives us the ability to fill our time and minds endlessly. There are many benefits to these technologies, but is there a hidden cost that we are paying?


What Solitude Really Is

Solitude is often referred to as a state of being alone without being lonely. This lovely definition of solitude conjures up images of sunsets on top of a mountain or leisurely walks along the beach. But in reality, we don’t need to be alone in a remote location to enjoy solitude. To complicate things more, sometimes being alone in and of itself does not result in solitude.

In the book Lead Yourself First, authors Kethledge and Erwin define solitude as “a subjective state in which you’re isolated from input from other minds”. In other words, solitude is when you are left alone with your own thoughts. It is more about your internal experience than what is going on around you. 

Read more ...

Simple Ways To Have An Active Summer

Simple ways to have an active summerWith the beautiful days of summer ahead of us it’s time to get outside! Enjoying the weather can naturally lead us to be more physically active, which is good for both our minds and our bodies. Let’s intentionally embrace these opportunities and find pleasure in our movement this summer!

There are ways to  incorporate physical activity into your daily life and make it fun, so that it doesn’t feel like work. With so many amazing places to explore physical activity doesn’t need to be repetitive, boring, or expensive.

Let’s look at some ways to make this a great, active summer!


Incorporate Physical Activity Into Your Everyday Life

If you live a busy life and struggle to find time to be active, try to incorporate it into your daily life.

  • Choose a parking spot far away from the building when out and about.
  • Walk, or bike, places if possible when running errands, getting together with friends, etc.
  • Carry your child or give them a piggy back ride to the car, the lunch table, or bedtime.
  • Race up and down the stairs in between other less active pursuits.

    Read more ...

Planning an Intentional Summer

planning an intentional summerThink back to the end of the school year when you were a kid and had the entire summer ahead of you! For many of us it was an exciting time to dream of all the fun things we would do and adventures we would have during our break. As we get older, responsibilities tend to crowd out the childlike wonder that comes with summer, but what if we could reclaim just a bit of it?

What if we let our imaginations take flight and listened to what our hearts really want for this summer? We may not be able to do all the things on our summer bucket list (a trip to Hawaii, or vacation at an all inclusive resort), but we may be able to clarify what is important and lean into those things in little ways.

Clarify Your Values

Think about your priorities! If you don’t clarify your values it is easy to allow other people’s values to direct your days. Here are some exercises that can help you think through your values and decide what is really important to you.

  • Take some time to think through what activities you would enjoy this summer, things that bring you life.  Do you notice a theme?

    Read more ...