When we pause to reflect on gratitude and anxiety, most of us would agree that they are two very different emotions. Interestingly, there is research that supports that these two emotions can often coexist in the same person at the same time. I am living proof of this. I know it sounds like like a paradox, but gratitude and anxiety can be felt at the same time. Many people experience feelings of gratitude and anxiety at the same time - myself included - and it is possible to harness the power of both emotions to create a more fulfilling life.
Gratitude and Anxiety
Gratitude is a powerful emotion that can unlock so many beautiful emotions in our hearts and lives. When we practice gratitude, we focus on what we have rather than what we lack, and this shift in perspective can help us to feel more positive and optimistic - and results in happiness. We also know that gratitude can also help us to form deeper connections with others and build stronger relationships, because it encourages us to express our appreciation for the people in our lives.
Anxiety is a feeling of fear or worry about something that might happen. It can be a natural response to stress or uncertainty, and sometimes it is simply something we feel for no reason at all. I fall into that camp, and for many of us, it is a chronic condition that we need to navigate on a daily basis. Anxiety also results in physical symptoms such as increased heart rate and sweating, and it can make it difficult to focus and enjoy life. It also can cause stress in our relationships and friendships because we spend time worrying if someone is mad at us or we did something wrong.
The Good News about Gratitude and Anxiety
The Good News: The Brain Can Only Respond to One at a Time
Research has shown that gratitude can help decrease feelings of anxiety and stress. The good news is that while these emotions can coexist, our nervous system and brain can only respond to one of these emotions at a time. The brain actually cannot respond to any sort of negative emotions (like stress, anxiety, or depression) at the same time as a positive ones (like gratitude!).
When we focus on what we have to be grateful for, it can help to reduce anxiety and increase feelings of positivity and well-being. Another beautiful things about practicing gratitude is that is can also increase our awareness of the things that trigger our anxiety, and help us to develop strategies for coping with these triggers.
Fight Anxiety with Gratitude
One of the key ways to reconcile gratitude and anxiety is to adopt a growth mindset. This means that we view challenges and difficulties as opportunities for growth and development, rather than as threats or setbacks. When we adopt a growth mindset, we can focus on what we can learn from our experiences, rather than dwelling on what has gone wrong. This shift in perspective can help us to feel more grateful for the lessons and opportunities that life presents us with, even when we are struggling with anxiety.
Another way to fight anxiety with gratitude is to practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention to the present moment, without judgment. When we are mindful, we can appreciate the things around us and recognize the good things in our lives, even when we are feeling anxious. Mindfulness can also help us to develop a sense of perspective and balance, so that we are less likely to become overwhelmed by our worries.
It is also helpful to engage in self-care activities, like exercise, journaling, or taking a long warm bath, as these can help us to reduce stress and increase feelings of well-being. When we take care of ourselves and draw awareness to how to care for ourselves, we feel more positive emotions and less anxious. This triggers how we view life and highlights all of the good things we have to be grateful for.
Another way to ease anxiety with gratitude is to engage in acts of kindness and generosity. When we focus on helping others, we can feel more connected to the world around us and less focused on our own worries and concerns. This can help us to feel more grateful for the things that we have, and to develop a sense of purpose and meaning in our lives.
Lastly, always remember that you are not alone and if you are struggling with anxiety, you have a support system around you. Consider talking to a friend or family member that you trust, seek the advice of a mental health professional, or joining a support group. By connecting with others and sharing our experiences, we can find comfort and encouragement, and we can learn from others who are also dealing with similar challenges.
Gratitude and Anxiety Can Coexist
Gratitude and anxiety can co-exist in the same person and it is possible to harness the power of both emotions to create a more fulfilling life. By adopting a growth mindset, practicing mindfulness, engaging in self-care activities, performing acts of kindness and generosity, and seeking support from others, we can find balance and peace in the midst of our worries and concerns.
Every single one of us is going to have anxieties because that is life. It is foolish to think that we will never have to struggle with anxious thoughts again - but this is okay!
Gratitude and anxiety may seem like opposites, but they can actually complement each other and help us to create a more meaningful and fulfilling life. By focusing on the good things in our lives and recognizing the opportunities for growth and development, we can find the courage to overcome our fears and anxieties. So, embrace gratitude and anxiety with open arms, and see how these two emotions can work together to bring you joy, contentment, and peace.