Episode 23 – The Science of Gratitude BONUS featuring Dr. Katie Ford

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Please click to see a full transcript but please excuse any errors – it was auto-transcribed using Otter.ai!

Stacey Cordivano 0:07
Hey there, it’s Dr. Stacey Cordivano. I want veterinarians to learn to be happier, healthier, wealthier and more grateful for the life that we’ve created. On this podcast, I will speak with outside of the box thinkers to hear new ideas on ways to improve our day to day life. Welcome to The Whole Veterinarian.

Stacey Cordivano 0:34
Here’s a quick bonus episode from my chat with Dr. Katie Ford. If you’ve never heard the science behind gratitude, you’re definitely going to be surprised by this one. If you haven’t already, make sure to head to the whole veterinarian comm slash subscribe to sign up for our monthly newsletter. I hope that it’s helpful. And I hope you enjoy this episode.

Stacey Cordivano 1:03
One other thing I want to talk about is gratitude. I know that you are a strong believer in gratitude, and it’s a practice that I’ve picked up in the last year and have found immensely helpful. So where do you start on gratitude?

Stacey Cordivano 1:18
In terms of gratitude, this was definitely something that I got into as a result of, like we say, the power of thought, self development, and realizing that I spend so much of my life playing, it will be okay when… it will be okay when you’ve done this, when you’ve done this, when you’ve done this. And it was partly like that mindfulness piece of coming back to the moment and changing your focus and your attention to look what’s already here and what we’ve got. And that’s sent me down a rabbit hole of actually looking at a lot of the evidence that’s behind gratitude out there. And I’m sure you’ve looked as well. And it is phenomenal what evidence there is not only on like, a neuroscience front, but on a social psychology front as well, in terms of the things like improved relationships, reduced facial tension, reduced perceived stresss scores, reduced depression scores, improved sleep, reduced heart rate variability, and I actually ended up writing a couple of articles in the vet profession and in a couple of the journals just bringing together the evidence for it. Because as you’ve seen, it can be so powerful. But I think for years, it was very much seen as a little bit out there, not very scientific. And I was thinking of it as where I had this few years back of people sitting around the campfire, singing Kumbaya and being grateful for what.. And definitely, it’s not when you start to look at like the serotonin release that we can have. The fact that we’re as we’re grateful for what we’ve got, that actually puts us in a far better position to go ahead and get more moving forward, just because you don’t end up doing it for the wrong reasons. You sit and soak up what you’ve got right there. So I don’t know what kind of gratitude practices you’ve been integrating. And I can touch on some of the other ones that are there as well.

Stacey Cordivano 3:00
I do the Five Minute Journal. So it’s start the day with three things you’re grateful for, and three things you’re looking forward to. And then it’s a recap at the end of the night of three things that went well, an affirmation statement, and what could I have done better? It’s just a nice little book from Amazon. I’ll link to it.

Stacey Cordivano 3:21
Awesome. And that’s the definitely and, you know, that takes no time does it?

Stacey Cordivano 3:27
It’s so quick.

Katie Ford 3:28
And when they started doing studies into gratitude, they actually looked, I’ve not got the paper in front of me right now. But there was a hospital where they’ve got over 100, doctors, nurses, occupational therapists, and they have been doing journaling tasks where we gave them a brief and they had to journal for five minutes, just twice a week. And that was literally one group, there was a talk about things that you’re grateful for that have happened during the day, that maybe a colleague has swapped a shift with you or a patient’s improving, or you’ve got a thank you card, another group had to talk about the stresses and the annoyances of the day and the things that frustrated them. And the final group didn’t change anything to what they did. And they only did this for four weeks. So it’s eight journaling sessions is not very much when you think about it

Stacey Cordivano 4:15
It’s nothing.

Katie Ford 4:16
And there is a really good improvement in the perceived stress scores, in the depression scores. And they found that when they did follow ups after another two months after that, that some of those improvements are still stayed around. Now a limitation of the study was actually that they didn’t follow up if people carried it on after those four weeks, or if it was just an ongoing effect of those four weeks. But when we look at the fact that that’s a very transferable profession for ours, that just spending that time where actually you have that gratitude, we get those serotonin releases, we get the effects of the fact that maybe it makes us spend a little bit more time thinking of all the people and thinking about what we’ve got and also saying thanks You too, you can see how it then has universal benefits. And not only that person, but everyone around them too. And the easiest way to start with gratitude is just what you said, just spending some time consciously reflecting in a journal, or maybe do it, I don’t know, habit stack. So like James Clear and his Atomic Habits – straight after you brush your teeth or something like that. But the most important thing as much of writing it down is, think about why you’re grateful as you’re writing it down. Because that will probably be one of my biggest tips for people. If you’re doing gratitude, don’t just grab a pen and paper and write three things and run away and don’t give it any conscious attention. Because that just ends up just being like a monkey see, monkey do exercise, essentially. You’ve got to give your conscious thought. And it doesn’t have to be massive things, you know what they, the small things that look like token efforts to add to our gratitude list are actually the massive things if they weren’t there any more. So you’ve got running water, we’ve got electricity, we’ve got somewhere to sleep, and we’ve got shelter. They’re never things we put that much conscious attention to in time, we’ve already talked about the reticular activating system, and how once we’ve put our conscious attention to something, our brain finds all more examples of it. If we start thinking of what we’re grateful for doing that every day, then we’re slowly choosing that part of our brain actually, to go out there and be like, you know, what a lovely day is which, in turn is a good thought, which is going to make us feel a little bit better.

Stacey Cordivano 6:27
Yeah, I was gonna say, that’s what I’ve found is that now I notice during the day, a lot more things. I’m like, Oh, I will write that one down tonight, because that sunset, like you know, just little things that it makes you more aware throughout the rest of your day.

Katie Ford 6:42
It does doesn’t it? I mean, gratitude certainly isn’t denying people having a bad day or anything like that. It’s not saying Oh, if you have a bad day, go and sit and write loads of gratitude and your smile on your face by the end of the day, some days, yes. But it’s just a really nice practice to get into. Like you’ve said, it can make a really big difference just because it’s such tuned in our brain to look for the good in the day, and then you go, you know what, I’m so grateful for this. I’m so grateful for this. And when that that inner critic wants to pipe up and say, here’s all the things going wrong, you can kind of take some big deep breaths, do journaling, try and just settle yourself down a little bit with it. And yeah, it’s not the be all and I explained this to people is a tool kit item in the same way that for well being. exercise and drinking of water and mindfulness are all toolkit items. Gratitude can be really powerful one to add in there too.

Stacey Cordivano 7:38
Thanks again for tuning in to this quick bonus episode from Dr. Katie Ford. Again, many, many thanks to Katie for the time that she spent with me. Make sure to check her out on Instagram @KatieFordvet because she shares an insane amount of educational content over there. You can also follow me @thewholeveterinarian. And as always, I would appreciate any feedback and if you feel so inclined, leave a review on Apple podcasts. Talk to you next week as we dive into unconventional leadership

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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I’m Stacey

I want veterinarians to become happier, healthier, wealthier and more grateful for this life that we’ve created.

I understand the struggles of a stretched-too-thin veterinarian. I have also learned that with some individual work, there is a brighter side to veterinary medicine. Personal and financial development strategies have helped me find a happier place in my life and in my work. I hope to share resources that will resonate with my fellow veterinarian to allow you to become a more whole person.

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