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Easing Anxiety Through Self-Compassion and Gratitude

Published in Behavioral Health Services, For the Health of It Author: Melissa Pribyl, MSN, RN, Bounce Back Project Lead

There is no doubt that this has been an intense and difficult year for all of us. While there are normally many reasons for anxiety in our modern lives, living through a pandemic — and its ripple effects — has increased anxiety for many. Gratitude and self-compassion can help bring relief from anxiety, reduce stress and contribute to a better overall sense of well-being.

Gratitude positively impacts our mental, physical and spiritual health. Grateful people:

  • experience more positive emotions (happiness, optimism, joy, love and enthusiasm)
  • cope better with stress
  • live with a more positive outlook on life
  • enjoy relationships more fully

How can you incorporate gratitude into your daily life?

  • When you wake up each morning, write down three specific things for which you are grateful. They can be simple (hot coffee in my favorite mug, a job with coworkers I enjoy, or the chance to walk with a friend at lunch). The more specific, the better.
  • Take a gratitude break during the day. While you are heating up your lunch, filling up your water bottle or waiting at a red light, take a mental break to think of something you are grateful for that occurred that day.
  • Send a text, write an email or letter once a month to a friend, family member or colleague and tell them why you are grateful to have them in your life.

Recognize that all of us experience feelings of inadequacy and insecurity. Think through how general stresses may influence you or make your life more challenging. Examples include:

  • technology
  • isolation
  • busy pace of life
  • fears driven by the pandemic
  • changes to routines or things you enjoyed due to the pandemic

Self-compassion can help you adjust as life gets back to normal this summer. Take some time to reflect on all you’ve been through this past year and how far you’ve come. Give yourself grace and reject guilty feelings when you take time for self-care.

The Bounce Back Project is a unique collaborative who have come together for single purpose — to impact the lives of individuals, communities and organizations by promoting health through happiness.

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