Yesterday, I shared how Prayer Breathing helps calm me in anxious situations or gives me enough grace to lessen the cloud of anxiety that follows me throughout the day. Aside from breathing exercises and prayer, the one thing that has probably helped me the most is Gratitude. Which brings me to the second Way to Deal with Anxiety in Motherhood:
A Gratitude Journal
When I’m caught in an anxious situation – the kids are all yelling at each other over the silliest things, we’re late again, the toddler decides he has to poop right now, and oh, looks like the dog just threw up all over the floor I just cleaned – I feel like either running away or hiding in the bathroom with some chocolate and scrolling through friends’ or even stranger’s seemingly perfect lives on Facebook or Instagram.
I feel nothing close to grateful in that moment. However, if I can somehow muster up the courage to ask for a wee bit of Grace, I can take my negative thoughts by the reins and force them away from the deep ugly sludge or paralyzing anxiety and back onto a smoother road by thinking of what I am grateful for. Usually, I start out rather reluctantly but if I can get through at least three things I’m grateful for, I can usually get through another three and then I realize that, as stressful and annoying as this current situation is, I have so much more to be thankful for.
Anxiety and depression and all the other difficult emotions that come with motherhood can really weigh us down but we can find a glimmer of light in that dark tunnel when we turn to gratitude. Here are some ways to find that light.
- You can either mentally list the things you’re thankful for or offer it as a quick mental prayer. I find it very helpful to write out in words what I’m thankful for in my journal, which I sometimes call my Gratitude Journal.
- Many people have shared the idea of keeping a Gratitude Journal and it’s very simple. Find a pretty notebook and pen and pick a time of day (or whenever you need it) and start out with writing out Three Things I’m Thankful For. I shared more about the Gratitude Exercise when I shared Dr. Christopher Kaczor’s book, The Gospel of Happiness: Rediscover Your Faith Through Spiritual Practice and Positive Psychology . On a good day, your gratitude list may turn into more than three. On a harder day, this could offer you a space and time to “vent” on paper which can also be helpful as long as you circle it back and end with Gratitude.
- Tell others you’re thankful for them. Tell your children, thank you, in the good moments and even after the bad moments bring the focus back to the positive. Tell your husband, thank you, for all he does to love you and your children. Take time during your day to sit and write a thank you card to a friend or family – it’s amazing how this simple act can turn your day around.
- Discipline yourself to look at your life – your children, your family, your marriage, your motherhood, everything – through the lens of Gratitude. It’s really amazing how powerful gratitude is.
Tomorrow, I’ll share more about taking Time Outs Alone for another Way to Deal with Anxiety in Motherhood.