Practicing Gratitude To Stop Anxiety
Today, I want to share with you why I believe practicing gratitude is such an amazing tool for stopping anxious thoughts in their tracks.
In my experience, the feelings of overwhelm, frustration or being stuck are often driven by the anxious thoughts.
People continually plagued by feelings of fear, worry and anxiety, often spend their days playing a game of what I call mental question tag.
You know, when you´re constantly overthinking everything you think or feel. Asking yourself questions like Am I feeling anxious? Am I feeling edgy or am I feeling okay? Am I feeling confident or am I worrying too much?
The reason behind this continual mental questioning is the powerful effect anxiety has over your mind and your body. And while some people can cope with many of the physical sensations that come with anxiety and fear, there are many more who really struggle with anguish and distress caused by the anxious thoughts running through their head.
When you suffer from anxiety, it can feel like you´re walking around in a mental fog; a mental fog made up of anxious thoughts and feelings. Anxious thoughts and feelings that constrain you, isolate you and rob your life of joy.
Pushing Through The Mental Fog Of Anxiety
When anxious thoughts are running your life, you tend to focus all of your energy on your mental anxieties.
A powerful way to silence all the anxious mental chatter going on inside your mind is to shift your focus from your head to your heart.
As you make that shift, you´ll not only notice that anxious chatter in your mind beginning to fizzle and fade, your focus will return and you´ll start thinking more clearly.
Shifting Your Focus From Head to Heart
So, how do you make that shift?
Start with being thankful for all of the positives in your life.
Practicing gratitude is terrifically powerful.
For example, did you know scientific studies prove that practicing gratitude on a regular basis can dramatically change your physical chemistry, leading to greater peace of body and mind?
Or that the Heart Math Institute has 15 years’ worth of scientific research showing how the simple act of gratitude can drastically reduce stress while increasing productivity in individuals as well as organizations?
The technique I´m going to share with you here is simple, yet effective. Doing the exercise will lift you up and give you a clearer sense of perspective on anything that has been bothering you.
Print out the instructions and really make the time to do it.
- Close your eyes and focus your attention on your heart.
- Imagine a warm sensation starting in the center of your chest and spreading outwards…glowing softly. Feel the warmth for a minute or two.
If you´re alone, place your right hand over your heart. If not, simply imagine your right hand resting there.
- Now, think about something or someone in your life that are truly grateful for.
This can be anything from family and friends to home or work – it might just be that you´re grateful for the sunshine on a beautiful day. Size doesn´t matter, what´s important is that you focus on something that you are truly and deeply grateful for. And you´ll know when that´s the case because you´ll feel an immediate sense of warmth around your heart or a smile on your lips
… remember those.
Connecting Your Mind To Your Heart
Everyone has something they can be thankful for.
Don´t feel bad if thinking about your family doesn´t give you that warm glow of appreciation. Sometimes the thought of your loved ones will speak to your heart and other times, it will be a bumble bee in flight or the air that you breathe.
It´s not what causes that feeling of gratitude that matters most, it´s the feeling itself you´re after; a feeling that distinctly changes your emotional state in a very positive way.
Ideally, you´ll want to do this exercise when you´re alone, so that you can hold on to this feeling as long as you can. Then, once you have, you can open your eyes again.
From just a few minutes up to a half an hour, there´s no limit to the time you can spend practicing this exercise.
What you´re trying to do is connect your mind to your heart and, in so doing, shift your focus from your anxious thoughts to your physical body.
Do it first thing in the morning when you wake up, or before you go to sleep at night. Take a few minutes in the car on your way to work or at your desk during the day.
If you can, set aside some time to do this each and every day.
Practice Makes Permanent
The more you practice this exercise, the easier it will be for you to shift into a state of gratitude and appreciation, especially in times of stress or anxiety. This simple exercise can have a huge positive impact on you, on your work, on your personal relationships and on your overall quality of life.
Give it a try. Be creative with it. Make it part of your daily routine.
After all, practicing gratitude doesn´t cost you a penny.
It´s not necessary to run around looking for brighter, shinier solutions to the problems in your life, when gratitude is something you can choose to practice, each and every day.