In the past month, I’ve created a new technique to combat my anxiety/ fear/ depression. It was accidental at first (as many habits are)-it soon became a conscious game-the angel versus the devil of the mind.
It’s distraction through gratitude.
As soon as I slip down the rabbit hole, I immediately find one thing to be grateful for—sometimes it’s basic… “I’m grateful for the air I breathe.”
Sometimes, that’s all the energy I can muster. I may just be thankful I woke up; have my feet on the ground; have a talented and loving husband; have 3 vibrant kids (aka cats).
But since gratitude is a daily waking practice, I challenge myself… it’s about increasing brain health and creating better neural pathways.
In really dark times of stress, those primary sentiments seem insincere—as if “I’m just saying it so I’m grateful for something.” In those moments, gratitude is a distraction when it’s not only heartfelt, but when my brain works harder at finding genuine gratitude.
That’s when I lose the momentum of my anxiety.
How do I make it harder? By knowing our brain finds answers when we ask the right questions. “How can I find genuine gratitude in this moment? Since this negative feeling doesn’t serve me or others, how can I work through it and shift my mindset?”
The answer? Tie my gratitude TO the root of my anxiety: lack of money? Someone has it worse. I’VE had it worse. Others have made it through tough times, as have I. I’m grateful I have skills to get a better job; have skills to partner with schools and libraries; have a small client base that sticks with me through these tough times.
I end this practice by sending wishes to others, so they find the abilities/opportunity to better their situation soon.
It’s taken time and practice to master this ability, and sometimes THAT is what I’m grateful for. If my struggle helps just one person, I’ve accomplished something meaningful with it. If I can pull my head out of my ass and smile when it’s tough, maybe I’ve made someone’s day. You never know the result of doing that—you may save a life.