I want you to know that gratitude changes everything.
Three years ago, I didn’t know what was going on with me. I was sad, stressed out and panicky. Everything scared me and I felt like the world was crashing down around me. I’d randomly feel dizzy and would call my mom in tears, thinking I was having a heart attack in the middle of the workday. My skin was covered in hives, my bones ached and I felt mentally paralyzed.
I went to my doctor and did every medical test in the book. Convinced some horrible disease had infected me, you can imagine my surprise when the universe decided to yell, “Plot twist! It’s anxiety!”
At that time, I didn’t know anyone who had anxiety. I also had no clue that your mental health could have such a significant impact on your physical health. Suffice it to say, now that I had an actual term to Google, I dug deep into the interwebs and was blown away by what I found.
I. Was. Not. Alone.
That realization introduced me to a whole world of coping mechanisms and strategies to overcome anxiety, sans medication. Super keen to get a handle on my mental game, I did two things: (1) Research, research, research and (2) Read, read, read.
When I look back at that time, I can attribute one of the biggest shifts in my mindset to one book in particular: The How of Happiness. I didn’t even read the book from start to finish, and I’m sure there’s hundreds like it, but it was the first time in my life that I’d come across literature on the subject of gratitude. Not just feel-good quotes, but actual scientific evidence proving that the expression of gratitude – if performed regularly – can and will increase a person’s overall happiness.
Desperate to feel any semblance of joy, I decided to give it a try. I started a gratitude journal and every night before bed I’d write down three things that I was truly grateful for. The list would range from small things (e.g. sale at my favourite store) to big things (e.g. never-ending love and support from my mom).
Over time, I felt lighter. I felt calm. I felt – dare I say it – happy.
That attitude of gratitude changed my life.
Please know that when I say this, by no means do I claim to have found a cure for anxiety. It’s something I still deal with and will probably deal with for a very long time. I also understand that anxiety is a highly individualized experience and it comes in varying degrees, at different times, in different ways, for different people.
But, trust me, gratitude helps.
Gratitude isn’t just about listing things next to the #ThankfulThursday hashtag, it’s about actually FEELING that gratitude and appreciating all the good things you have in your life. Even the bad things, the things you overcome and are stronger for as a result, those things get a “thank you” as well.
With that said, I’ll leave you with a list of things I’m truly thankful for this week:
- I am thankful for my best friend who made me a card and bought me candy when I hit 1000 followers on Instagram. This may seem like something small and insignificant, but it really meant a lot.
- I am thankful for the people who took the time to send me messages of support this week as I trudged forward with my 10-day writing challenge.
- I am thankful for my dad who, after lecturing me on how much I spend on rent, ended the call by saying, “I trust that you’re making the right decisions, so as long as you’re happy, I’m happy.”
- I am thankful for coffee. OMG, am I ever thankful for coffee! I could barely keep my eyes open this morning, let alone think about writing another blog post – and now look! I’m a few words away from completing my fifth post of the week.
- Lastly, I am thankful for my mom. I can’t even begin to list all the things this woman does that just fills with my heart with gratitude. You’ve got a permanent spot on my list, mama.
One step closer to There,