What Helps My Anxiety Post # 5: Gratitude


Luckily, those anxious feelings I had pretty much dissipated after I wrote the last post. I’ve felt the anxious feelings when something specific comes up that makes me feel nervous, but it’s tolerable, and I know that that’s normal for most people.

When I’m in the throes of unrelenting anxiety (or depression or flip-flopping between the two), it’s hard to feel grateful about anything. With anxiety, it feels like everything makes me anxious (like I can’t even listen to music that the day before I was totally fine with). And with depression, it’s like this dark cloud seems to cover everything, even the things that once made me happy are like, Who cares?!

There are tons of articles and videos out there about gratitude. One I really like is this Ted Talk by Katia Sol: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6VcN1kgN3eI&list=PL_cmA_chUzebVRYpUXo-C0jfZQAcdz8dy

So since we know gratitude is so important, but yet can be so hard to do when experiencing an “episode” (or just a really stressful time), how and where do we begin when it feels impossible?

Barry McDonagh’s YouTube video really started the whole gratitude thing for me years ago. I use this method he describes still (and used it this last time I had the “acute anxiety”). It’s great to use when experiencing an anxiety attack, or just feeling down. Listen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FTzSMUZz7Xw

Another great tool for me has been yet another app (My name is Carolyn, and I definitely have an app problem). This one is called Grid Diary (http://griddiaryapp.com/en/). Basically, you choose the grids you want to fill out with prompts (for example, What am I grateful for today? Did I exercise today? How did I care for my friends and family today? etc.) You can also upload photos to it, and set a reminder for a certain time each day if you forget to write in it. Another really nice feature is you can view all of the grids at once with the photos beside it. You can make it as simple or complex as you want to. Here is an example from September:

grid diary screenshot

Last but not least, gratitude circles it’s way back to my other tips, like mindfulness-based meditation and taking a walk. I am so freaking happy when I’m walking and just appreciating the sunshine, the trees, the clouds, a hello from a stranger, the chance to make someone smile, and so on. It’s hard for me to remain stuck in my head when I know there is so much beauty in the world. Gratitude is something I hope to practice daily for the rest of my life.

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