I’ve always had difficulty sleeping (Donna). Being one of those people that comes wired with anxiety, I would frequently find myself awake in the middle of the night, with my brain churning. Depending on the way life was going, it would be about my children, my work, or other life events that were going on at the time. My brain would run on a hamster wheel, and I was unable to stop it. I did try breathing, counting, and other relaxation techniques, but I usually found myself climbing right back on the wheel.
Positive psychology, infused in our work with kids, encourages us to use gratitude as an anxiety management tool. The strategy is to write down three good things that happened each day and why they were good. The “why” cements the positive thought. It is most advantageous to do the exercise right before you go to sleep each night so that your brain gets tucked in with good thoughts.
I do still wake up most nights, but I have found that when I consciously shift my thoughts from what’s keeping me awake to things in my life that I am grateful for, I am back to sleep within minutes.
Gratitude not only benefits sleep. Doing this exercise for a week will actually change your thinking to be more positive. Continuing to do the exercise has research-proven long-term effects. Get grateful, have the kids get grateful, and get back to sleep!
And just to express our own gratitude to our blog readers, here is a gratitude tracker that you can save and print out for the kids! (Right-click on the image to save for printing).