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counter anxiety with gratitude
November 2, 2020

Countering Anxiety With Gratitude

When you struggle with anxiety, finding things to be glad about can feel like an uphill battle. But developing a regular practice of gratitude can benefit all facets of your well-being. If you take time to acknowledge the little things you have to be thankful for, you’ll eventually change your mindset and feel more optimistic about life.

Why Can Gratitude Help Combat Anxiety?

Anxiety can trap you inside your thoughts. Gratefulness gives you a way to break this cycle by focusing on the world around you. Practicing gratitude shouldn’t seem like another chore on your to-do list, or an obligation you fulfill because you must. Approaching it from that mindset will add to your stress and overburden you. Instead, you should embrace gratitude as a tool that helps you tackle anxiety and feel your best. Consider these reasons to hone a daily gratitude practice.

1. Encourages “In-the-Moment” Living

Do you often catch yourself dwelling on the past, or fretting about the future? Practicing gratitude encourages you to live in the now, instead of worrying about things you can’t change or stressing out about occurrences that might never happen. When you cultivate a daily practice of gratefulness, it will help you stay grounded in the present. You can retrain yourself to see the positivity in everyday life.

2. Brings More Self-Compassion Into Your Life

Anxiety and negativity go hand in hand. You might berate and belittle yourself because your inner critic is always playing on a loop. That begins a habit of comparing yourself to others and feeling like you always come up short. Gratitude can help free you from this burden by encouraging you to find more self-compassion. You are worthy of love, forgiveness and happiness. Counting your blessings – whether literally or metaphorically – can help you accept that.

3. Makes You Happier and More Content

It’s hard to practice gratitude when your anxiety keeps telling you everything in your life is going wrong. Next time you feel stressed or overwhelmed, take a step back and see if you can pinpoint the root cause of your tension. If you tend to be a visual learner, it might help you to write out a list of everything that’s bothering you. Then, for every pessimistic thought, see if you can come up with a correspondingly uplifting one. This simple exercise activates dopamine, the neurotransmitter that regulates your brain’s reward and pleasure centers. The result is nearly instant happiness, encouraging you to return to the practice again.

4. Helps Foster a Sense of Connection With Others

Anxiety sufferers often struggle to establish and maintain lasting relationships. If your anxiety leads you to believe you’re not likeable or worthy of love and friendship, you can end up feeling lonely and sad. Deliberately cultivating an “attitude of gratitude” could help counteract your isolation by making it easier to see the good in yourself and others. Set a goal for yourself to do one good deed for a total stranger every day – whether that’s paying off an expired parking meter, giving a compliment or leaving an anonymous happy thought on someone’s parked car.

Look After Yourself and Those Around You

If your anxiety has made you feel exhausted and swamped, you might drink or use drugs to provide a temporary sense of relief from the near-constant negativity weighing you down. In the long run, though, substance use is not a healthy coping strategy. A worsening addiction can undermine your relationships, sabotage all facets of your health and leave you feeling trapped and desperate.

Ample research points to the fact that evidence-based treatment is the most effective strategy for addressing a dual diagnosis like anxiety combined with addiction. Beach House combines a compassionate culture with a scientifically proven approach to teach our clients the necessary skills to reclaim their lives and achieve sustained sobriety. Our admissions advisors are waiting to take your call today.   

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