Gratitude as an Anti-Anxiety Strategy
One of the most incredible things about gratitude is that it increases dopamine in the brain, a feel-good chemical involved in happiness and satisfaction.
Believe it or not, anxiety has a really tough time standing up to dopamine. I often say that anxiety and gratitude can't play in the same sandbox, and gratitude will always trump anxiety.
Try this as an anti-anxiety strategy the next time you feel anxiety creeping in: 1. Pull out a blank Thank you card, and a pen. You can use just a regular sheet of paper too. 2. Think about a person in your life who you are grateful for. Think about why you're grateful for them, and start writing it out. Email is ok, but writing it down is best. Here's an example template I use:
"Dear, _____________. I was thinking about you today, and how grateful I am for you. In particular, I appreciate _______________, __________________, & ________________. I've learned _____________ from you, and my life is better because of _____________________ that you bring to the table in our relationship. Thank you for being someone I can (trust, count on, talk to, be myself with, grow with, etc.). You are very special to me, and I am thankful every day for you."
3. Put the card in the envelope, address it, and mail it. Simple, but oh so effective. Notice how you feel while writing this letter of gratitude. And enjoy the respite from the anxiety, as well as the good feelings of knowing that you've made someones day when they open your note. Similar practices of gratitude, such as thanking people for their service at the grocery store, restaurants, etc will also increase dopamine and reduce anxiety. So whenever possible, let's focus on what we have (rather than on what we don't have) and work towards being genuinely grateful for the many things and people we can consider gifts in our life. It will literally change your brain and bring you much more joy this month.
Wishing you a beautifully blessed Thanksgiving season.