Finding things to be grateful for in the midst of anxiety and depression can be really difficult. I struggled with this a lot. "Adopt an attitude of gratitude" or "interrupt anxiety with gratitude" were two quotes I stumbled upon over and over again while scowering the internet for a "cure."
My life on paper looked great. I knew I was fortunate to have a loving, supportive family and great friends (big things), but I couldn't find gratitude in the small things. I was too zoomed in to see how many blessings were really surrounding me.
I didn't trust myself or my thoughts - so I couldn't be grateful for who I was or my intuition.
I felt like shit every single day and didn't see a point - so I couldn't be grateful for my health.
I was having a spiral of bad thoughts over and over again about my partner - so I didn't feel grateful for my relationship.
I spent my entire day ruminating at work - so I didn't feel grateful for my job.
I usually left therapy feeling drained - so I didn't feel grateful for the help and support I was receiving.
I spent thousands of dollars on different forms of healthcare and wasn't feeling better - so I didn't feel grateful for having an income, or benefits, or having access to knowledge and information.
You name it.
Maybe you're reading this and thinking "wow that's selfish, people are dying every single day" and you're right. I am not down playing the serious struggles and heartache that other people are experiencing every single day, I just was so in my own head life felt really difficult in my own little bubble.
Enter a daily gratitude practice.
I heard on a podcast that the act of looking for things to be grateful for is what is actually beneficial in the long run - not necessarily being able to list ten things right away but taking the time to think of the different things in your life that you can be grateful for. Small things. Something as simple as writing down a few things to be grateful for each day can actually change your brain. I am no scientist, so don't ask me to explain it all to you, but neuroplasticity is a very real thing.
I now try to incorporate a daily gratitude practice every morning to start my day. I try not to repeat things from the day before and I try to keep them very specific.
1. I am grateful for being able to share my work and message with my community.
2. I am grateful for the new trail I found by my house, and being able to spend my morning in nature.
3. I am grateful for having our parents close enough that we can drive to either family on a weeknight.
4. I am grateful that I was able to wake up to sunshine this morning.
Gratitude is not an easy fix but it does help ground you in the present moment, which in my experience can sometimes be enough to take a breather and relax slightly. What are you grateful for today?