Singer’s Wellness: Gratitude and Your Immune System
There are the traditional methods of staying healthy including eating well, sleeping and hydrating. Then there are other ways that you can boost your health (and your happiness too) that you don’t normally think of.
At the top of the list is Gratitude.
About two years ago, I began a gratitude journal as I found myself caught up in day-to-day struggles and wanted to see more of the blessings in my life. Rather than going to bed each night fretting over what hadn’t gone well, or what I hadn’t done, I wanted to remember the wonderful things that were going on around me all the time. So, I bought a pretty notebook (I’m a total sucker for notebooks and have a ton of them around at all times) and a pen I liked and put it on my bedside.
Then, I didn’t write in it.
Seriously. I wrote in it about once every three months. At most.
One day, I went to bed particularly bothered by the day. I hadn’t felt like a good teacher, yogi, singer, parent or spouse. I had snapped at people, I was getting a cold and I just generally felt down about the world. I saw the notebook sitting there and I thought ‘what the hell, why not?’ and I pulled it out.
It was a struggle to come up with three things about the day that I was grateful for. It was really, really hard. I kept at it though. Each night I wrote.
Fast forward to today and I write almost nightly and can easily fill a page with the things I have noticed happening in my day that I am grateful for. Most of the time they are small, mundane, ordinary things, but they are worth a grateful moment of recognition. Occasionally I’ll write about things that I want to have happen in the hopes that expressing my gratitude for having something will help will it into existence. Sometimes I’m too tired and I just mentally make a list of things I’m grateful for.
I don’t even write in complete sentences, just phrases. Keep it simple.
Robert Emmons, PhD, a prof at UC Davis, researches gratitude and the effects it has on people. In an article he wrote for The Greater Good, at the top of the list of physical benefits of gratitude is “stronger immune systems”. You can view his list of 10 ways to become more grateful and at the top of that list is to keep a gratitude journal.
Go ahead, indulge in a new notebook and a pen you love. Put the book by your bedside and commit to writing in it nightly. Start with just three things you are grateful for and watch how your list grows over time. If you need some ideas, try keeping track of:
- the things your voice allows you to do,
- how the people around you have helped you pursue your singing goals,
- your admiration for your singing colleagues,
- the opportunities you have to share your gift with others,
- other small moments in your daily life that make you thankful.
Your healthy voice and your spirit will love you for it!