Mental health is as important as physical health. Often, in the LS online communities, I read women’s posts of depression over this diagnosis, anxiety over checking on the condition every day (Is it worse? Is it better?) and chronic worry over the possibility of structural changes to the vulva and the increased risk of cancer.
It is crucial to our health that we find and devote time to practices that improve our mental wellbeing and empower us to participate in our healing every day. Gratitude is one such practice.
I know, I can hear you… “I’ve just been diagnosed with LS and you’re telling me to be grateful? Are you crazy?”
So, what about lichen sclerosus and gratitude?
The research is in. In a Harvard Health article entitled Giving Thanks Can Make You Happier:
Another leading researcher in this field, Dr. Martin E. P. Seligman, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, tested the impact of various positive psychology interventions on 411 people…When their week’s assignment was to write and personally deliver a letter of gratitude to someone who had never been properly thanked for his or her kindness, participants immediately exhibited a huge increase in happiness scores. This impact was greater than that from any other intervention, with benefits lasting for a month. Of course, studies such as this one cannot prove cause and effect. But most of the studies published on this topic support an association between gratitude and an individual’s well-being.1
Participants didn’t even have to deliver the letters they wrote. They received the benefits of gratitude regardless.
From the Global Autoimmune Institute:
Research has shown that gratitude can decrease stress hormones like cortisol and produce a “shift in autonomic balance toward increased parasympathetic activity,” otherwise known as the “rest and digest” state. For individuals experiencing anxiety, sensitivities, and other health issues who may be operating in a chronic “fight or flight” mode, sending the body into a relaxed state can positively impact health and aid in the healing process. 2
In Lichen sclerosus and breath, I mentioned the importance of “rest and digest” mode for reducing oxidative stress in the body. Practicing gratitude every day is one more way to work towards physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. With or without LS.
Gratitude is powerful.
You can choose to take on the gratitude letter-writing practice. That just seems like a soul-nourishing way to spend an hour. Or, take a moment to conjure gratitude right now. Feel it. Find a reason. Just one. Remember something that brings gratitude naturally to you. Then make it your practice to do so again and again. One day, you will feel it for no reason. It will become second nature to you. Life shifts when we live from this place of gratitude.
In answer to your question, yes, I am a little crazy. According to Alice in Wonderland, all the best people are. Join me, won’t you. Let’s have LS and be grateful every day.
Read the next post in the series: Life with lichen sclerosus
Pick up your copy of the newest published book on LS: Lichen Sclerosus: Body, Mind & Spirit Practices to Heal the Stress of LS.
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**This blog is meant to inform, not diagnose or treat specific health conditions. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis and treatment. Always consult your doctor or health care practitioner.