One of the sure fire ways to quell anxiety and depression is to focus on Gratitude.
Since anxiety often revolves around issues of scarcity (not enough of something) and depression is fueled by negative thinking, gratitude puts a pause in the downward spiral of our thoughts and moves us in a better direction.
Personally, I have found practicing gratitude to be quite helpful in managing my anxiety.
Gratitude reminds me that there are still plenty of good things in the world and that there is much more to my life than my worries.
Lately, I’ve been laying in bed and having a moment of gratitude before I even push back the covers in the morning. Sometimes when my anxiety is flared I actually wake up worried, so having this moment is important for me to start my day off on a positive rather than negative note.
I start with the really simple things. I give thanks for the rest I received the night before and that I woke up alive and breathing. I give thanks for my children whom I hear stirring about and the dogs that shuffle around next to my bed. I give special thanks for my husband when I hear him puttering about in the kitchen starting breakfast. From there the list goes on.
Usually this is enough to help me put the worry down and get up and going each day.
Throughout the day, practicing gratitude can keep us on an even keel. In Mindfulness: An Eight-Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World, Williams and Penman suggest practicing a ten finger gratitude exercise once a day. This consists of counting out ten things you are grateful for on your fingers. They emphasize not stopping until we get all the way to ten as this forces us to look around ourselves and find appreciation for the small things in life.
If you want a great read that will help you take the next step with Gratitude in your life, check out Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where you Are. Voskamp, who herself has struggled with depression, one day decides to keep a running tally of the good things in her life. She will writes down every gift, large and small until she makes it to one thousand. This practice of appreciating everything from bird nests, rising moons, messy kitchens, boisterous kids to beyond becomes life changing for her.
If you adopt her practice, you may be surprised how healing it is to focus on the good that is all around us. For it turns out that our scary and scarce world has been abundantly full of goodness and joy all along.
I know I am praying for my eyes to be healed to see this grace all around me.
How are you learning to practice gratitude for the large and small gifts in your life?