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Today we are diving deep into how cultivating gratitude can transform our lives, particularly when facing a chronic condition such as endometriosis. 

From sharing my personal gratitude practices to demonstrating how gratitude can help alleviate depression and anxiety and even improve your digestive health, we will explore how this beautiful practice can support a healthier and more joyful life. 

We often tend to focus on the negatives in life, that’s just how our brains work. However, invoking an attitude of gratitude can ensure our thought patterns veer towards positivity, leading to better choices for our health. 

So join me as we give thanks, show appreciation, and unlock the healing power of gratitude in our everyday lives. Let’s begin our journey to become more grateful and ultimately, happier and healthier.

Enjoy!

References:
Mayo Clinic article
Harvard Health article

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Disclaimer: This podcast is for educational purposes only. This may not be the best fit for you and your personal situation. It shall not be construed as medical advice. The information and education provided here is not intended or implied to supplement or replace professional medical treatment, advice, and/or diagnosis. Always check with your own physician or medical professional before trying or implementing any information read here.


Full episode transcription:

Hello, my friend, and welcome back to the Endo Belly Girl podcast. Today’s episode is going to be a little bit different than some of the stuff that we have talked about in the past because we are going to dig more into the mindset piece of it, which honestly is such a huge part of the healing journey. Now, I am not one of those people who is going to sit here and tell you that if you just think positive that all of your problems will be solved and you don’t need to do anything else. I don’t really believe that. However, I do believe that having a positive mindset and cultivating positivity and gratitude, which is really what we are going to talk about today, is really an important first step in your healing journey. And this time of year, it is November. As I’m recording this and as this episode is going to air, if you are in the United States, we’re getting ready to celebrate Thanksgiving, which is all about giving thanks. So it just seems like a perfect time of year to talk about gratitude.

Although really there is no wrong time of year. If you’re listening to this at another time or from another place where maybe you don’t celebrate this holiday, or you have no idea what I’m talking about, that’s okay, really. What we’re talking about today is gratitude. So I would actually first like to start off by saying how very thankful I am for all of you. Everybody who takes time to listen to these podcast episodes, who leaves me a review, who writes me a DM on Instagram or reaches out to me in any way and lets me know how much you are enjoying the show. It truly means the world to me, and I mean that from the bottom of my heart. It makes my day when I get any sort of feedback or hear any sort of response. Of course, I’m recording this podcast episode completely by myself.

I actually record in my closet because it is the best sound quality in my home. High ceilings are great for many things, but podcast recording is not one of them. So it can be a little bit of a lonely journey. So I absolutely love hearing from you all, connecting with you all. And even if I’ve never heard from you, I still appreciate you taking the time to listen to these episodes. It means the world to me. So there you go. There’s my gratitude for the day so that I am practicing what I preach over here.

Now, even when you are struggling with a chronic condition, a chronic illness like endometriosis, I know that it can be challenging to practice gratitude because let’s be real. There’s a lot going on in your physical body. There’s a lot going on around you. There’s a lot of stress in so many ways. I’m not going to dive into all of that today because that’s not really what this episode is about, but it can have huge impacts on your life, and I don’t want to take away from that in any way. You have your reality that you’re living and you’re in it, and you have to take the time and the space to honor that as well. I absolutely understand that and can resonate with that so much. But there also is so much that you can be thankful for even on your worst days.

And trust me, I’ve been there on those worst days. Maybe it’s hard to even think of it in that moment, but even looking back or on the days that you’re not just completely keeled over or doubled over in pain, maybe those are the days that you bring in the gratitude in a little bit more to make up for the days when you’re not really feeling it. We all have our ups and downs. That’s just part of life. That’s okay. But let’s even take a moment as we begin this episode to bring to mind what do you have to be thankful for? What do you have gratitude for in your life already? I promise you, there’s something. Maybe you have a loved one or a pet, or a special place that you just love, or even a favorite food that you enjoy, whatever it is, anything that makes you feel fulfilled and loved and nourished in any way. What do you have that you feel gratitude for? I know for me, even on my worst days, I feel an enormous sense of gratitude for my husband.

If he’s listening to this, which he probably is. I can’t even express how thankful I am for that man in my life. He holds me up in my darkest days. He reminds me what a wonderful human being I am, which is hard for me to see sometimes. One of the struggles that I run into personally, for example, is that when I’m struggling, when I’m having a little bit of a flare or I’m in pain, I’m struggling in some way or another and I’m just down and out. Those days when you’re just bedridden or you’re just stuck on the couch not working, not, in my opinion, doing anything useful. He reminds me how okay that is and supports me in any way that I need. He makes sure that I am fed and have everything I need, and I’m taken care of and feel loved, and I am so thankful for that every single day.

Having a partner like that in life, I know, is something that not everybody has ever has the chance to experience, and I’m so very thankful to have that. That’s my biggest source of gratitude for me. So it may be different for you. It may be something completely unrelated. It may not be a relationship at all. Maybe it has to do with, like I said, a pet. I’ve got three dogs, too, and I’m certainly thankful for them every day, even when they are driving me absolutely crazy. So maybe it’s something like that for you.

So today we’re going to talk about a few things related to gratitude. Number one is, why? Why should we bother with this whole gratitude thing? We’ve all heard about it before. We all know we’re supposed to be thankful, but why? What does that actually do for us? What is the purpose? How does that actually impact your body? And endometriosis, how is that even connected? And we’re also going to talk about how to actually cultivate a gratitude practice on a day to day basis, which, of course, is going to be really important as well, so that you can take everything that we’re talking about and actually put it into action. Make a real, tangible game plan to create a gratitude practice for yourself. So let’s start out by talking about the mental and physical benefits of gratitude. So I came across an article written by the Mayo Clinic, which, of course, is a very renowned medical facility, and they had a whole article all about gratitude, which I will link to in the show notes if you’d like to check out the whole thing. But I did want to share a little quote from that article that I think just really highlights the physiological impacts. It says expressing gratitude is associated with a host of mental and physical benefits.

Studies have shown that feeling thankful can improve sleep, mood, and immunity. Gratitude can decrease depression, anxiety, difficulties with chronic pain, and risk of disease. If a pill could do this, everyone would be taking it. Your brain is designed to problem solve rather than appreciate. You must often override this design to reap the benefits of gratitude. I thought that was really cool, especially the part about if a pill could do this, everyone would be taking it. And that’s so true. If you had a pill that could do all of those things for you and make you just feel mentally and emotionally better, we would do it in a heartbeat.

And honestly, that’s why so many of the common prescription drugs are out there, because they do make an attempt to do that. But here’s the thing. Gratitude is free and doesn’t have any negative implications in your body. There are no negative side effects to gratitude. So that’s a beautiful thing. Now, of course, there is nothing in that quote telling us exactly how gratitude will help with endometriosis, but you can see the links. I’m sure I don’t have to spell it out for you, but we’re here, so I’m going to do that anyway. So many of us, first of all, struggle with depression and anxiety.

I know that is something that has come and gone for me throughout the years, especially when I was experiencing a lot of flares and a lot of pain back when I was really in the thick of my endometriosis experience. Of course, struggling with fertility and just the chronic issues that come with endometriosis, it can be very challenging to maintain a healthy mental state. So something like having a daily gratitude practice, if that can help alleviate the mental anxiety and depression that may come along with it. Amazing. It certainly can’t hurt, like I said, and definitely the chronic pain that was something that was mentioned in the Mayo Clinic article as well, was that it has been shown to help with chronic pain. Well, that’s absolutely something that we’re all familiar with, or many of us are anyway. And absolutely, we could all use help with mood regulation and sleep and all, many of the other benefits that it mentioned as well. And like I said, practicing gratitude, it’s simple and it’s free.

Anybody can do it, starting right now, today. You don’t need anything to get started except for you and your own brain. That doesn’t make it necessarily easy, but it’s a tool that’s available to you right now. Another piece of the puzzle that I wanted to bring to the table is that gratitude actually can support a healthy digestive system. And that’s something that I actually was trained on within my nutrition training. My initial nutrition training with nutritional therapy association, as well as the in depth gut healing course that I took, all were going into the benefits of a gratitude practice, particularly surrounding your meal itself. So, like when you sit down to eat, taking a moment of gratitude before you begin your meal has actually been shown to support healthy digestion. So for those of you who struggle with bloating and other digestive issues, take a moment to sit down before you begin a meal and have a little moment of gratitude.

How is that even connected, you ask? Well, taking that moment of gratitude brings your brain into what is called a parasympathetic state, meaning it takes your nervous system out of that fight or flight mode that we’re used to being in a lot of the day, a lot of the time, and it takes us out of that, into that calm, easy, non fight or flight mode state. It’s the same reason that I always recommend to my clients, taking time to step out of your day and actually sitting down to eat meals, not eating on the go, not eating in front of the computer, actually being mindful of what you’re eating, taking a few deep breaths before you eat. These are actually all recommendations that I give my clients on a regular basis, because it’s something that so many of us don’t do. And it actually has enormous impacts on your digestive health. Because what you do at the top of your digestive process, which is the part where you actually consume the food, has huge impacts on your digestive health further downstream. If you’re not bringing your brain into that parasympathetic state and you stay in that fight or flight mode while you’re eating, your body isn’t able to fully turn on the digestive system the way that it should. Things aren’t firing correctly. Digestive juices aren’t firing correctly.

You may not get all the enzymes that you need to fully break down food, and things like that on a physiological basis end up contributing to things like bloating, which may be very familiar to you, and other digestive issues that come up further down the line. So just that simple step of taking a moment of gratitude as you begin your meal, sitting down, taking a few deep breaths, bringing yourself into that calm, relaxed state can have enormous impact on your digestive health. Again, for free. And it only takes a moment. Give it a try. The other beautiful benefit is that gratitude floods your system with a hormone called oxytocin. Oxytocin is known as the feel good hormone or the love hormone. It leaves you feeling good, like when you are loving on that pet that you love.

I keep coming back to that today. I was just loving on my dogs right before I came to record or cat or whoever you have or spending time with a close loved one in your life, when you just leave feeling good, you just have that overwhelming sense of feeling good. That’s oxytocin at work. And gratitude can help to flood that oxytocin into your system so that you feel good, you feel more connected, you feel more love. And let’s be real, that’s important. There’s also a Harvard study that I found, which I will also link to in the show notes. They actually did some studies having a group, I believe they had a group of people actively practicing gratitude in their life, and another group of people actively focusing on the things that irritated them and the negative things in their life. And they showed in this study that the people who actively practice gratitude are overall happier.

They’re more optimistic. And I believe that is so necessary. When you are struggling with a chronic illness, it’s an important first step in your healing process. Again, it’s not going to eliminate all of your symptoms in and of itself just because you’re thinking positively, but it absolutely helps along the way. Because here’s the thing. If you’re thinking more positively in your life, you’re more likely to take positive actions, making better choices with your diet, looking out for help, believing that the process that you’re taking, the system that you’re following is something that’s going to actually work. Having optimism for your future and all of that stuff is going to be enormously impactful on your long term health. And here’s the thing, too.

Our brains, and I’m including all of us in this, just humanity as a whole, our brains tend towards a negativity bias. I’m sure you can all relate to that, because when I was hearing about this, reading about this, I’ve heard this many times before because I just love looking into things like this. A negativity bias, meaning we are more prone to look at the things that aren’t going well in our lives, to look at the things that are bothering us, to focus on that stuff. And in order to overcome that, we have to intentionally take a step back and look at what is going right. There’s always something. All right, my friend, are you feeling convinced yet about the benefits of gratitude? I hope so. This is something that I wholeheartedly believe in. Gratitude.

And working on cultivating a gratitude practice has changed my life immensely. And I hope that it helps you along your journey as well. So let’s take a look next at some strategies that you can use to actually cultivate a gratitude practice. It’s one thing to think of it in theory. Okay, I’m grateful. Or bringing something to mind right now as you’re listening to this episode, things that you are thankful for. Great. But what we really want to do is come up with a long term strategy, creating habits in your day to day life so that cultivating gratitude is something that happens on a day to day basis, not just because you’re listening to this podcast episode, not just because of the season that we are in, but because it is part of your day to day life, it becomes just a part of you along the way.

So let’s take a look at some strategies. I’ll talk a little bit about strategies that I have used, other strategies that I’ve heard of along the way that I know other people have used and have worked well for them. So let’s dive in. First, one very simple strategy is doing some gratitude journaling. This is something that I have done on and off over the years. There are times that I just feel like I need more of that. I feel like maybe I am leaning more into that negativity bias and I need to kind of refocus my brain and reframe some of the thoughts and things going on in my mind. And so I do like to sit down and actually do some gratitude journaling.

And it doesn’t have to be anything fancy. I know if you look out there, I don’t even have any particular resources for you, but I know that they exist. There are gratitude journals that you can buy. There are journal prompts that you can look for online, and that’s all great. But honestly, I think the best bet is just to keep it simple. Just sit down and make a list of things that you are thankful for. If there are certain things that you would like to dive into a little bit deeper and really dig into why you’re thankful for it, kind of gush over it. Great.

It’s your journal. So at the end of the day, you get to do whatever you want. But just taking even five minutes first thing in the morning before anything else to really focus in on gratitude and where in your life you can find gratitude. What you’re actually thankful for can be a wonderful and very powerful exercise. And you can do that in five to ten minutes. It doesn’t need to be a long time, or even less. Maybe you just write down one thing. If that’s all you’ve got today, great, I’ll take it.

Another strategy that I have used and actually currently use on a day to day basis, this is one that I really have habituated and embodied and taken into my life on a day to day basis, is taking a moment at bedtime. When I first get into bed, I lay down, get under the covers, get all comfy and cozy, and honestly, I feel very thankful just for that moment got through the day. I’m in the time now where I get to get into bed and be all comfy and warm and cozy in my little cocoon. And before I turn off the lights and I like to read a book when I fall asleep. So before I even get my book out and start to do all of that, I lay there and just bring to mind the things that went well, the things that I’m thankful for in that day. Sometimes it’s a more generalized thing, like I said, maybe bringing to mind how thankful I am for my husband. But oftentimes I’ll kind of just rewind through my day, just look through the events of the day, the conversations that I had, what I did that day, the people that I spent time with that day, whatever it may be. And I try to intentionally look for the positive things that happened along the way, or the things that I’m very happy about or excited about, because it’s so easy, if we’re not intentionally doing that, to focus on the things that are bothering us.

Maybe you had so many wonderful things happen in one day, but then, I don’t know, you got cut off on the freeway and almost got in an accident, and so you end up focusing on that and forget about the person who paid for your coffee at Starbucks or whatever it was. So that’s what I try to do, is lay down and just intentionally bring to mind. You could certainly journal it as well. I find that by the end of the day, I am just tired and don’t want to have to think too hard. So I like to just mentally think about it at the end of the day. If you combine that with the morning journaling, great, then you can kind of get the best of both worlds. I’ve played around with both. I found that the journaling, for me, this is just my personal experience, is something that I haven’t been able to really commit to doing every single day.

But I do like to journal, I would say probably at least a few days, a week or so. I do that gratitude journaling, but the bedtime routine is something that I actually do every single day. So those are two strategies that I really love. Another strategy, which I think has so many benefits that reach so far beyond just your own personal health and well being, is to simply thank somebody in any way that works for you. Maybe you write a handwritten note. Maybe you shoot somebody a text or an email or a DM. Maybe you pick up the phone and make a phone call. Maybe you talk to them in person.

Whatever it may be, however you may be contacting that person, see if you can actually make note of the reasons you might be thankful for somebody. Maybe they went out of their way to help you. Maybe they have been extra kind to you, or they helped you in some way. Or another. Now, when it comes to saying thank you, I think many of us have habituated that in a way where we don’t really think about it. For example, if I’m walking into a building and somebody holds the door open for me, I’ll say thank you. But I don’t feel like I’m really taking the time to there and truly enjoy that moment and really be in it and be thankful. And of course, that’s a very small example in the grand scheme of things, although we all know how important the little things really are.

But especially if something happens or there’s a moment in your day, a moment in your life, something that just makes you feel really special or happy or taken care of in any way, and you are really thankful for that. Letting that person know can have enormous benefits for both of you. Of course, they’ll feel good about themselves because they know that their actions or their words had a positive impact on your life. And everybody loves to hear that. But it also can have really positive impacts for your own health. Because actually feeling gratitude for somebody and releasing that oxytocin in your body, that feel good hormone, it has those benefits of your health that we talked about earlier. So take some time. Maybe even do this once a week, maybe make a date with yourself at a certain time every week.

Put an alarm on your phone even, and make it a point to thank somebody every week, or just as it comes up, you just make it a point to notice when somebody has some sort of really positive impact on your life and actually take time out of your day to thank them and truly feel it and mean it. And the last strategy I’d like to talk about today is doing a gratitude meditation. So there are many different ways to meditate. I know I talked about meditation on a previous episode a little bit more in depth. I absolutely love a good meditation practice. It’s something that’s been a part of my life for a very long time. I am also a certified yoga teacher and have been for, I believe, about twelve years now. And so of course, meditation really came along with that.

It’s been a big part of my journey, although it has admittedly kind of come in and out. It took me a while to really get a routine down when it comes to my meditation practice. But there are ways to bring gratitude into a meditation practice, and I think that can be really powerful. So it can be simply focusing your mind on something you’re very thankful for. Even just repeating the word gratitude or grateful or thankful in your mind as you meditate. Like a mantra, meditation can be really powerful, too. Or you could even find a recording of a gratitude meditation. I know there are many out there on the internets that you can find if you would like to kind of follow along and see what that’s like.

But that’s another very powerful strategy you can use to cultivate gratitude in your life. But whatever it is that you choose, can you make it a habit? Because being thankful, being grateful once or once a year is not going to have enormous impacts and benefits on your health. But if you can be practicing gratitude on a day to day basis and really embody that and incorporate it into your life, that is where you really can feel the impact in the long term. Because when we’re talking health, this is one of the things that is really important to me in my practice and in the way that I work is that we’re looking at long term strategies, long term ideas to get us to that healing place for the long haul. So how can you make it a habit? Is there a certain time of day that you’re going to practice gratitude like that first thing in the morning or last thing as you’re getting into bed? Are you going to set an alarm on your phone every week to make sure that you are thanking the people who deserve to be thanked in your life in some way? And then the last question I have for you today is, can you spare five minutes of your day for this? Five minutes? I’ll give you a hint. The answer is yes. At the end of the day, it’s not about having time. It’s about creating time.

I hear that time and time again and certainly am guilty of it myself. Oh, I don’t have time for that. Oh, I wish I could do that, but I just don’t have time. Whether it’s for gratitude or any other positive habit or action that you should be taking in your life. Well, the thing is that we have time when we really make it. Do you have time to sit there and scroll through Instagram? Do you have time to sit there and binge Netflix episodes or whatever your guilty pleasure is in your life? We all have them. It’s okay. I only know these things because I do them, too.

I get it. But can you take five minutes of that to practice gratitude every single day? And then as you’re doing that, notice how you feel afterwards? Do you feel calmer? Do you feel more connected? Do you feel happier? Is your mood and your emotional state improved in any way? Even if it’s the tiniest amount, then it’s worth it. And especially if you’re practicing gratitude around a particular person in your life, thanking them, or simply taking a moment to feel thankful for them for yourself. Notice how your relationships begin to morph and change as you express your gratitude in any way, especially if you do have a challenging relationship with somebody, whether it’s a romantic relationship, a relationship at work, a relationship with a friend, a family member, whatever relationship that may be. What if you even started purposefully noticing the good things? I know I’ve been guilty of this. I have a few particular scenarios that I can bring to mind where a certain person just knows how to push my buttons and irritate me in just the right way, that it becomes so easy to just notice those things. Oh, my gosh, so and so did this again. Oh, my gosh.

So and so said this, and it just bugged me. Okay, but can you notice the positive things, too? Make it a challenge for yourself. Can you sit there and journal out all the wonderful, beautiful things about that person? Because I’m sure that there are some, whenever I have tried that practice that challenge. What a difference it begins to make in your relationship and more importantly, your outlook on that, your perspective on that. Because really, that’s everything. At the end of the day, you’ve got this, my friend. Do yourself this favor. Begin to cultivate a gratitude practice in your day to day life, if you don’t have one already.

All right, my friend, again, I would like to express how incredibly thankful I am for each and every one of you. You truly mean the world to me. I absolutely love showing up for you each and every week and recording this podcast. It’s my favorite thing to do. And so I am eternally thankful for all of you for following along this journey. All right, my friend, until next time.

alyssa chavez, whole woman wellness. health into your own hands, endometriosis

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