I don’t know about you guys, but life has been unbelievably stressful lately. Our country seems to be in complete chaos and if you are social distancing during the pandemic, you know how difficult it can be to not be able to see your friends and family like you used to, or visit the places that you love. My family has been very strict with social distancing since March and take the risks of possibly becoming sick with Covid or getting anyone else sick, very seriously. I like to keep informed with local and world news and besides the virus, the heart wrenching headlines involving racism, police brutality, murders, pedophilia, immigrant children in cages and the overall intense discord among Americans, to name just a few, is enough to trigger anxiety in anyone. As someone who has suffered with anxiety throughout my life, these are very trying times. (Perhaps I will discuss anxiety in more detail on a different post.)
So often we find ourselves in what seems like a free fall through life, picture Alice falling down the rabbit hole, but instead it is you falling so quickly and stumbling through your to-do lists, unfinished tasks, children, house work, deadlines, appointments (you get the picture). Add into that free fall the current events surrounding us and life can become utterly overwhelming and oftentimes discouraging. When we are unable to finish those tasks, be the perfect spouse or parent, make the money we want, or achieve all the goals we set for ourselves, we can internalize that as failure and suddenly the life we created isn’t “good enough” for us by the time we go to bed; only to do it all again the next day. Why do we do this to ourselves and why do we allow the events of the outside world to completely consume us and alter our mood?
Something that has often helped me in times of anxiousness, stress, sadness, anger, helplessness and even bouts of depression, is the “Attitude of Gratitude.” Start each day with a grateful heart and say aloud or write down a few things you are grateful for. It can be something as simple as breathing, or as profound as your ability to paint the most beautiful sunsets. Sometimes without even realizing it, we wake up angry or annoyed. Perhaps you didn’t get enough sleep or you know you have a million things to do today and all you want to do is sit on the couch and binge watch The Office (again). If you wake up and are genuinely grateful for something and hold on to that feeling for a few moments, it becomes harder to hold on to those negative emotions.
Don’t just start your day with an Attitude of Gratitude, practice this mindset throughout your day and essentially throughout your life. The photo above is of a simple Saturday morning in the summer. I made blueberry muffins, poured some coffee and sat on the sun porch. As I was sitting there I took in the whole scene and REALLY thought about every element around me that I was grateful for. The sun and warm breeze coming through the screens of my sun porch, the blueberry muffins made from ingredients I was lucky enough to be able to buy and have delivered through Instacart (so I didn’t have to go to the grocery store), my pretty tea set that my husband got me for Mother’s Day, the sound of my healthy daughters laughing in the other room, and ultimately, the air in my lungs.
My mind was not just distracted from the stressors of life from this exercise, but I was reminded of my purpose and of the joy and the happiness that we all strive for and what defeats everything that is made to bring us down. Even if it’s just a few moments throughout the day, really focus your mind on gratefulness until it becomes a habit. If you can, write a list so you can go back and reread it when you are feeling anxious or upset. You will see how much the Attitude of Gratitude calms your anxiety, alters your mood for the better, allows you to become more productive and overall improves your everyday life.
For some strange reason we are all hardwired to focus on the negatives, because it’s easier to do so. Challenge yourself every single day to change your mindset of failure, stress, angst and sadness to the Attitude of Gratitude. It sounds easy enough, but this is not something that we naturally do. Think about what an average day looks like for you, how often do you stop and focus on what you are truly grateful for? I am guessing not that often. Practice this exercise and allow it to become a common element to the betterment of your mental health, until it becomes as simple & effortless as breathing and watch your mood elevate and wellness unfold.
If you have a moment, share with me what you are grateful for in a comment below or send me an email. This exercise will not only help you focus on gratitude and boost your mood, but reading your joys will help boost mine as well!