In our society, the new year is often celebrated as a chance for making a new start. Many of us create new year resolutions that are meant to help us accomplish a personal goal. Perhaps this year you’re ready to begin making a change in the way you see yourself and the world around you by reducing your stress and anxiety. One of the most direct and useful ways this goal can be pursued is with the power of gratitude.
Our mental state contributes significantly to our overall health. The way that we feel physically and the thoughts and perspectives that we use and hold onto mentally feed of of each other. For many of us, our physical and mental state can fall into a negative cycle or pattern.
One of the main ways that anxiety works against us is by convincing us to look at what is lacking or what is going wrong. We allow anxiety to keep our focus on the negative, because we allow ourselves to believe that by looking at the negative we can prevent future problems or pain.
To counteract the negativity or anxiety that has taken a hold of your life, try a small dose of gratitude. The small things really do add up, and can start to balance the scale toward an open, positive, and healthy cycle for your physical and mental state.
Here are some concrete tools to help make gratitude useful for you in your daily life:
1. Start each conversation with something positive. Have you ever noticed that the normal way to start a conversation with a close friend is to comment on a bummer about your day? While it’s nice to have someone to vent to when you really need it, the social norm of connecting through our complaints can be dangerous for a person’s world view and mental health. Challenges yourself to begin each interaction with a compliment, an appreciation, or by sharing something positive about your day.
2. Compete only with yourself. Comparing yourself to another person is a giant invitation to negativity and anxiety. Instead, set goals for yourself based on your skills and concerns about yourself now and focus on where you want to be personally. When anxiety wants you to look at mistakes or pain in your past, consider the way that you’ve survived or overcome this set back – and spend a moment appreciating that part of yourself and your experience that allowed that.
3. Do yourself a favor. Choose to take an action that you can truly thank yourself for at the end of the day. Do something even though it’s hard. Be your own best friend. You’re allowed to take care of yourself, and be sure to thank yourself for it.
4. Outsmart your fears. Turn a fear into a hope and then into an action. When stress, anxiety or negativity wants you to expect the worst from the future, identify what it is that you’re hoping for. See if you can identify multiple possibilities that you would enjoy. Then, turn that hope into an action and take a conscious step toward making that hope a reality. You can’t guarantee it, but you’ll thank yourself later for doing what you could rather than letting yourself be distracted or paralyzed by fear of something bad happening (or by the fear of the unknown).
5. Seek out positivity. Pay attention to those who you spend time with. Experiment with ways that you can contribute gratitude, hope, positivity, or generosity of spirit within the situations around you. Active awareness of your mood and the mood of those around you can not only help you influence your world in a positive way, but it can help you remove yourself from a situation that may be sucking the life out of you.
Once gratitude becomes a habit within your life, you’ll be able to better balance the need to prepare – not allowing it to become a need to plan for the negative, but instead being an active part of creating a world around you that you enjoy – whether that means peace, calm, excitement, or anything in between.
Bonus Tip: If you want to get a powerful head start, get yourself an accountability partner. Taking on the gratitude challenge with a friend can increase your chances of success because you can support each other when the going gets tough. If you’re curious about how to make these tips work best in your unique life, don’t hesitate to contact me.
Contact me for a free phone consultation.
Happy New Year!