Growing Gratitude, Goes a Long Way 

April 20, 2022

Can you relate to any of the following in the last six months?

  • You wake up at 3 a.m. with your mind racing and have trouble falling back asleep.
  • You find yourself worrying about things that don’t usually bother you.
  • You feel shaky, restless, and unsettled.
  • You’re tired and unmotivated – but can’t pinpoint why you feel this way.
  • You want to be alone more than usual.

We are living through unusual and trying times that came on quickly and without warning. One minute, we were carrying on with life as usual, and the next, everything turned upside down. At Greenlawn Funeral Home, we know how painful this time can be, as many Springfield, Branson, and Bolivar families came to us for help following the death of their loved ones. For many, their arrangements had to be tailored, condolences had to be expressed from a distance, and grief seemed more intense with low hopes for the future.

Despite hardship, there have been many stories of organizations or people stepping up to go out of their way to help and efforts made to spread cheer in small ways. We hear about neighbors helping neighbors. Young people are raising money for their community. Local businesses are paying it forward even as they face challenges. During times of prolonged stress, growing gratitude in your life, such as focusing on the good and choosing to be grateful, can have a huge impact on your outlook and mental health wellness.

For some, the stress seems to be piling up on top of each other, and things that were once easy now seem like a hassle. In those instances, it’s completely okay to feel lost, hopeless, and have a jaded outlook that’s a normal human reaction to the unknown and being told that you can no longer do things that once brought you happiness. So, it’s okay not to be okay, but it’s not okay to struggle with your mental health alone or accept that things will never get better. At the same time, you might not feel particularly grateful or be unsure about where to start.

You might even say, “I’ve been through a lot, I am having a really hard time, and honestly, I don’t have much to be thankful for!” Again, that’s okay. Everyone process grief and stress differently, and there’s no timeline for when those harder feelings will become more manageable. While it’s easy to say “oh well,” and push things under the rug, it’s not a healthy practice and will soon become unmanageable. This is a familiar situation, and every time we have walked with those families through their grief. We don’t claim to know the answers, but we want to help our families, even if it’s just listening over a cup of coffee.

We also know this: Gratitude is one of the greatest healing tools available. There is not a single downside to expressing thanks! Scientific studies have found that gratitude can improve our relationships, sleep, lower blood pressure, and better manage stress. Even knowing the benefits, some might be hesitant and unsure where to start when expressing thanks. Here are a few ideas:

Whether you’re outside or inside while looking, think about or write down what you find:
  • Something that is your favorite color
  • Something that makes you smile
  • Something that smells amazing
  • Something that makes you laugh
Think about, write down, or share your thoughts with others:
  • Someone you enjoy spending time with
  • A time when someone surprised with a gift
  • A memorial trip that you’ve taken
  • A cherished childhood memory
You can also grow moments of gratitude into your day:
  • Before you get up in the morning. Spend a minute thinking through your day and what you have to be grateful for.
  • Before you eat, take time to express gratitude for the food sitting before you. As you’re eating, slow down and savor your meal.
  • Before you go to bed, think about the positive things that happened to you and anything you have to look forward to throughout the week.

And if you feel that your emotions are becoming unmanageable or need a safe space to process through your grief, we are here for you. With years of experience caring for families, we have built connections with a network of specialists, community resources, and support groups in the greater Springfield area. We are always available, so be sure to contact us for assistance.

As you think about building more opportunities for gratitude into your life, we want to close with a question: What are you thankful for?

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