Hurricane Sandy Stress-Relief: Recover From Within

The storm is over but for many of us on Long Island, the stress still lingers. Whether you’ve lost electricity or something much more meaningful, superstorm Sandy has affected us all physically, mentally and emotionally. As we start this holiday week that emphasizes gratitude, many of us may still feel the loss of control that the storm left in its wake: the realization that no matter how much we prepare, bad things can happen. The only thing we can control is our inner world and how we react to the stress around us.

Which is why I asked Lorraine Miller, a holistic lifestyle coach and author of From Gratitude to Bliss: A Journey in Health and Happiness, to share her thoughts and advice on how we can handle what we can’t control. She says that one easy, yet powerful way to reset and recharge from this or any stressful experience is to practice gratitude.

“I discovered the power of gratitude a few years ago when I was going through a personal struggle that left me stressed, fatigued and depressed,” she writes. “At the advice of a holistic health counselor, I began keeping a gratitude journal where I wrote down five things every day that I was grateful for. I also focused on the feeling I got when I thought about those things.”

Miller says she had no idea at the time the energy and joy this practice would bring her. In a matter of months, her outlook on life had changed and wonderful things began coming her way. She says she lifted herself out of her depression and overcame her chronic fatigue.

“I was so amazed by the power my gratitude practice was having in my life, that I began researching the effects of gratitude on well being,” Miller says. “I discovered that when people actively focus on what they are grateful for, the stress hormone cortisol is reduced by 23 percent. We know that when stress builds up in the body it can lead to chronic conditions such as autoimmune diseases and even cancer. Reducing our cortisol levels is therefore crucial to keeping the body in balance and disease-free. Research also shows that people who practice gratitude become 20 to 25 percent happier.”

To help you get started practicing gratitude, Miller invites you to sign up for the Gratitude Edge 21-Day Challenge, beginning on Thanksgiving. It’s free and only takes five minutes a day to complete. Each day you’ll receive a brief email with instructions for practicing gratitude along with inspirational tips to keep you going. You can sign up here: www.nourishbynature.com. (Just enter your email address in the right-hand column.)

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