When living with a chronic illness like kidney disease, it can sometimes feel like the illness is all-consuming. Rewiring the brain to find gratitude can not only support mental health, but also aid in the physical healing process. Mindfulness practices like showing gratitude and meditation can help reduce inflammation, decrease anxiety and depression that are common with chronic illnesses, and even lower blood pressure when done consistently. As a CKD patient, you know that keeping your blood pressure in check is important to slowing the progression of kidney disease. Developing a daily gratitude practice is a great first step toward using your mind to promote well-being in your whole body. Here are a few ways to get started.
Start a gratitude journal
Gratitude journaling is an activity you can do every day in just a few minutes. Grab a notebook and a pen and jot down everything you can think of that you’re grateful for that day. Successful dialysis treatment? Write it down. All caught up on your favorite TV show? Write it down. It’s amazing how many little moments of joy our minds let slip past us. Making a habit of writing them down helps to train your brain to recognize these moments more often, even in the face of challenges.
Try a gratitude meditation
Spend five to ten minutes each day focusing on something you are thankful for. Close your eyes, picture the subject of your gratitude in your mind, and hold that feeling in your body for a few minutes. There are many free guided meditations available online through apps like Insight Timer or from experienced practitioners on YouTube.
Share your thanks
Expressing your appreciation for others can also increase your own gratitude. Write a thank you card for someone who helped you recently or share your thanks with a member of your care team who really goes the extra mile. A simple thank you really does have a profound effect.